Saskatchewan Polytechnic welding program for women aims to change old ways of

BRANDON HARDER / Regina Leader-Post Kennedy Baker, a student in an all-women welding class, stands in the welding shop at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. The students are learning how to put a weld onto a straight piece of plate using a designated electrode.In the real world, this would translate into welding things like hand rails or fixing skids to loader buckets.On Friday, the students will do an industry relevant weld test with a welding inspector to get their qualification.“It feels great,” said Baker of the opportunity. “I’m from Manitoba originally and they don’t have anything like this, so when I heard Saskatchewan had one, I had to come.”The course is being rolled out in six cities across the country. It began in Edmonton, Tiverton, Ont. and Regina. It will be in Moncton, N.B. and Whitehorse, Yukon in late August and September.A one-time program for now, there are hopes it will return again next year based on the success seen this week.“I really just came in to be able to learn the basics,” said Baker. “But I’ve learned already so much more than I thought I would.” Instructor Derrick Deringer teaches a lesson on safety to a welding class made up entirely of women at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. BRANDON HARDER / Regina Leader-Post BRANDON HARDER / Regina Leader-Post An all-women welding class gathers for a photo in the welding shop at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Women comprise only 4.5 per cent of the skilled trades labour pool, according to the CWB Welding Foundation.Welding instructor Derrick Deringer hopes this course can help change that.“When I look at the welding trade as it is, be it women, men, we need more qualified tradespeople,” said Deringer. “I think to get more people from different backgrounds, different opinions, different ways of looking at things, it’s just going to make things better for every workplace.”With no female welding instructors in Regina, Deringer recognized the need for more diversity not just among students, but staff as well.“If we have females in the class, I’m sure they’d really appreciate having a female instructor just knowing that, ‘Hey, someday I can be there. I can work towards that,” said Deringer.Students will leave the 30-hour course with an industry qualified welding ticket, a seemingly large feat for such a short amount of time, but Deringer said he’s been really impressed with how quickly the students have caught on.“To go from not knowing what an electrode is to doing an industry standard weld in four days is actually pretty impressive,” he said. Growing up, Kennedy Baker never imagined she’d end up in steel-toed boots and a welding mask.“It was always, ‘You can be a nurse. You can go to university. But this is a way better fit, I must say,” said Baker from a Saskatchewan Polytechnic classroom Wednesday morning.Baker is one of 10 women who were accepted into a week-long course called Women of Steel: Forging New Opportunities, an Introduction to Welding Program (IWP).Developed by the CWB (Canadian Welding Bureau) Welding Foundation, the program aims to encourage women to explore careers in welding.“I didn’t want to commit to two years of paying however much and then realizing I don’t like it,” said Baker. “I really needed to be able to see, ‘Can I weld? How do you weld? And if it’s even a thing that I would enjoy.”Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Turns out, she does. And after only three of the five days under her belt, she said it’s a career she would definitely consider.

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