Women belong in the Skilled Trades. Opportunities for women in non-traditional occupations have been growing for years, and we’ve seen so many women and gender-diverse people thrive. Despite facing barriers like gender discrimination, women in Skilled Trades have succeeded in “proving them wrong.” Now, they have careers they love, stability, and the confidence to know they can take on anything. We’ve talked to women in Skilled Trades around the world to share their stories, and inspire others to pursue a career in Skilled Trades.
We created the hashtag #ActuallyICan to tell the stories of these amazing women realizing their potential and excelling in a career they’re passionate about. Use the hashtag #ActuallyICan to share your story of succeeding in traditionally male-dominated spaces!
Meet Aimee Robinson, Marine Mechanic
How did you get into skilled trades?
When I was in high school, I took classes like welding, woodworking and small engines, which helped me discover that I enjoyed working hands on. I developed a strong interest for engines and wanted to learn as much as I could about them.
In grade 12 I took a co-op position at a local garage where I did small jobs like oil changes and tire repairs. At the end of my co-op placement and upon graduating high school I was offered a job there which I happily accepted. I worked on cars for a few years before switching over to small engine. I completed a small engine college course and upon graduating found a job working on snowmobiles and ATVs. I did this for almost 2 years before making my final switch to boats/yachts.
Since then I have completed an apprenticeship and am a fully certified marine technician. I have been working in the industry for 8 years now including my automotive experience and I couldn’t be more thankful to have found a career in the skilled trades.
How have you grown through your work in skilled trades?
I have grown so much through my work both personally and professionally. Although I had to work hard and prove myself to get where I am today, it helped me break out of my shyness and I gained so much confidence and a stronger backbone.
Since my job is a combination of many trades, I am able to use the skills that I’ve learned on the job and apply them to my everyday life. Things like knowing how to change a flat tire or how to boost/charge a battery have come in handy more times than I can count. I have saved lots of money by fixing things myself and not having to pay someone else to do it. I also have the ability to do my own maintenance on my vehicle and there is no better feeling than that.
My biggest accomplishment yet is working as a tech while 6 months pregnant and then finishing my last term of school for my apprenticeship which I completed at 8 months pregnant. I am so proud of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown since I was that shy and timid girl just starting out in the trades 8 years ago.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
My favourite thing about my job is that there are always opportunities to learn new things. Even though I already went to school and completed my apprenticeship, I am always going back and taking new courses on specific engines or systems. Technology is constantly advancing and keeping up to date with training is an asset.
Another great thing about my job is that every day is different- one day I could be doing an engine tune up and the next day could be troubleshooting a plumbing system. I always knew that an office desk job was not for me, I am so fortunate to get to work hands on every day. Nothing beats working outside in the sunshine with a beautiful view of Georgian Bay.
What advice would you give to a woman looking to get into skilled trades?
My advice to women who are trying to get into the trades is to be persistent and do not give up. Go around and talk to potential employers and ask if they are looking for a trainee and be honest about your experience. Check back every few months to show eagerness and that you aren’t giving up. When given the chance, show your willingness to learn.
Often times you are starting out with no experience, it is important to always show up with a positive attitude, listen and take in as much as you can, get hands on when possible and show that you are willing to put in what it takes to learn the trade. There will be bad days and you may feel like giving up, this is what I use as my drive to push even harder and “prove them wrong”. You must have thick skin and a good sense of humour to work in a male dominated industry.
“Actually I Can work outside in the sunshine with a beautiful view of Georgian Bay.”
Think Skilled Trades is the career path for you? Learn more about YWCA Hamilton’s no-cost Pre-Apprenticeship program: