Building Foundations for Technical Training:
WITT Standards and Guidelines

by Marcia Braundy

WITT women have a history of identifying needs and developing effective programming to assist women.

Early in 1992, the WITT (Women in Trades and Technology) National Network--advocates for women in trades, technology, operations and blue collar work--developed national content and program development standards for courses for women interested in exploring these non-traditional occupations. WITT included in these guidelines not only the measurable tasks, competencies and technical skills necessary, but also more integrative skills in personal and professional development that enhance critical thinking and troubleshooting abilities both within and outside the working environment.

WITT women and their advocates have been working a long time on these issues and possess extensive knowledge and experience related to pre-trades training for women. From the development of the first pre-trades programs in Winnipeg and Saskatoon in the mid seventies and early eighties, through curriculum and relational learning work at Fanshawe College in London used around Ontario and the country in the 1980s, through a formalized curriculum guide and resource book published by the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education in 1987, WITT women have a history of identifying needs and developing effective programming to assist women in gaining challenging, satisfying and economically sustainable employment in fields where they have been under-represented.

In 1988, Kootenay WITT and Karyo Communications carried out a survey of the graduates of exploratory courses in trades and technology for women (often called WITT courses but known by several other names as well). That study clearly demonstrated the success of this kind of pre-training. At the time of the survey, 63% of the graduates were employed and another 13% were in technical training. With 47% working in a trade or technical area and many of the others in operational jobs, even those who chose to enter clerical or managerial work indicated that the self-esteem and self-confidence gained especially from learning tool skills, as well as the personal and professional skill, development, enabled them to pursue their current occupational choices (1).

This survey, contracted by Employment and Immigration Canada (EIC), indicated that during 1983-87, there was a spectrum of programs being delivered, varying in length (from six to thirty-two weeks), technical content (one to eight weeks of technical shop time), and quality of personal and career development skills provided. The report identified a number of recommendations for EIC at the national, provincial, and local levels, as well as for provincial governments and college administrations (2).

La formation technique: ériger des fondations

par Marcia Braundy

Au début de 1992, l'organisme Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) a élaboré des normes nationales pour l'élaboration des programmes destinés aux femmes s'intéressant aux métiers, à la technologie et aux opérations. Le bureau d'Emploi et Immigration Canada de la Colombie-Britannique et du Yukon ont adopté les lignes directrices, mais en raison du système de prise de décisions décentralisé dans ce ministère, des programmes de formation préparatoire à l'emploi qui marchent bien dans d'autres régions du pays sont annulés.

En raison de leur succès, les programmes de WITT et les lignes directrices doivent être propagés dans tout le pays, mais trouver l'argent et le temps de le faire est une tâche décourageante. Les femmes de l'organisme ont rencontré à plusieurs reprises les sous-ministres (ils changent tout le temps) de EIC chargés de la question. Mais, en raison des constants remaniements, elles doivent sans cesse répéter le même message. Le moment est venu pour le gouvernement de s'engager fermement à appuyer les programmes qui permettent aux femmes d'acquérir la formation nécessaire pour exercer des métiers techniques et spécialisés et à faire en sorte qu'elles puissent accéder à ses emplois en toute équité.

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