Students from schools across Oregon and southwest Washington learned about construction, utility work, firefighting, and other trades through hands-on demonstrations and workshops at the Women in Trades Career Fair May 16-18 in Portland. Held in the NECA/IBEW Electrical Training Center, the event allowed teens to meet tradeswomen, operate equipment, and learn about apprenticeships.
Rachel Murdock, a junior at Columbia River Youth Corps in St. Helens, put on boots, gloves, and rain gear to practice shutting off a water leak.
"I've never done anything like that before," she said. "I’m interested in a career in environmental work and anything that’s hands-on. I don't want to be stuck in an office."
Sophomore Carmen Huizar from Hudson Bay High School in Vancouver, Wash., successfully climbed to the top of a utility pole – something many of her classmates weren't able to accomplish.
"It was fun once you got into the rhythm of it," she said. "You need a lot of arm strength."
Connie Ashbrook, executive director of the Oregon Tradeswomen organization, said more women have been entering apprenticeship programs over the past several years.
"The kind of career information they learn here does not exist in high schools, especially for girls," said Ashbrook. "We have real, successful tradeswomen here to show young women they can do it."
Oregon OSHA was an exhibitor at the event, along with the Oregon Young Employee Safety (O[yes]) Coalition, which Oregon OSHA is a member. O[yes] representatives help educate students about on-the-job safety and health issues.
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