We are very excited about the positive response to our Totally Trades! Conferences for middle and high school girls around the state! The Conferences provide hands-on opportunities for girls to explore careers in trade and technology fields, to learn about education and career pathways in these fields, and to be inspired by role models.
The Conferences are supported by the Maine Departments of Transportation and Education along with many business and organizational partners, including Hardypond Construction, Cianbro, Charter/Spectrum Communications, FedEx, among others, in collaboration with Maine Career and Technical Centers and Community Colleges. Last year, NVME coordinated 6 Conferences attended by 625 girls from 52 schools; 3 Conferences are scheduled this fall in Rockland, Calais, and Farmington with others planned for next spring.
Thoughts from Deirdre
We asked Advisory Council member and Totally Trades! supporter Deirdre Wadsworth for her perspective on the Conferences. Here are her thoughts:
“As an employer, I see a large void in the trade and technical careers now and for the future. I see it every day in my office and out on our job sites; there just aren’t enough skilled people to do the work that our state and country needs done in a timely manner. When I speak with other contractors and specialty subcontractors from Portland to Bangor and nationally, everyone is complaining about the same thing—a major labor shortage. It’s important that we train people for these professions, and that we destigmatize the work as blue collar. The construction industry is very technical, scientific, and professional, and it takes all people, men and women with varying skills sets, to complete any building project.
I believe that the greatest growth potential for my industry is inspiring youth to explore a career in a trade or technical field. Totally Trades! Is a vital part of this throughout Maine. I was so excited to have the opportunity to participate and use my resources to help plan the first Westbrook Conference; now, four years later, I am even more inspired by the young women I get to hang out with at the conference. I love that so many of them come with an open mind and go-getter attitude. It’s fun for me, as someone who doesn’t work in the field anymore, to teach a 16-year-old girl to use a screw gun for the first time and watch her walk out of the conference with a toolbox she made. My hope is that it is even more fun for her and that she walks away feeling proud and accomplished. I’ve been lucky enough to see the progression of high school girls returning to Totally Trades! year after year and eventually enrolling in a technical school program where they are taking the first steps in securing a financially secure career that they enjoy. That has been the most rewarding part of being involved with NVME and the Totally Trades! Conferences.
As a parent of two young daughters, I hope that my girls will grow up not seeing career boundaries based on gender. I want them to find a path of employment that makes them happy, engaged, and always learning. I have found this in construction. The Totally Trades! Conferences exemplify all of this and are working to show young women these possibilities. I know that when I donate financially, the money is used responsibly and furthers the success of our community in Maine.”
We are proud that Deirdre, President of Hardypond Construction, was recently recognized by Mainebiz as one of their 2017 Women to Watch.