George Brown partners with Hilti Canada to increase training for women in the skilled trades

Trades students working in the shop.

A new partnership between George Brown College and construction solutions company Hilti Canada will create more training opportunities for women who want to work in the skilled trades. 

Hilti Canada is providing a $40,000 financial donation to expand the Women Transitioning to Trades and Employment (WTTE) program, and it’s also donating $100,000 in training and equipment so every new grad leaves the program with her own tool kit. 

“Skilled tradespeople build, maintain, and repair the infrastructure that connects us all. But the barriers to entry for women are well-known,” said Kizzy Bedeau, Director, Community Partnerships, George Brown College. “With a significant skilled trades shortage on the horizon, it’s essential that we do everything we can to support women who wish to enter the trades. This partnership will open pathways to opportunity for women who wish to pursue careers in the trades, while also building the highly skilled, inclusive workforce that Canada needs.”   

George Brown established the Women Transitioning to Trades and Employment (WTTE) program in 2007 with funding from the provincial government to help provide economic and job security for low-income women.  

Statistics show women make up nearly half of the Canadian labour force but hold less than four per cent of jobs in the skilled trades. 

“I have gotten a lot out of the program, including support and career guidance. I also learned how to set goals and how to organize myself in achieving those goals. Most of all I was able to decide what career I wanted to pursue. I want to have a career in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and I'm currently completing the gas technician program," said Florence Ruguru Gerald.

Ruguru Gerald came to Canada from Kenya in 2019 as refugee. She had worked in the construction industry in Kenya as a project manager before coming to Canada.

“Hilti Canada is excited to be able to work with George Brown College and our team members are looking forward to supporting these courageous women in the WTTE program who are choosing to enter a non-traditional workforce,” said Dan Wade, General Manager of Hilti Canada. “We are looking forward to helping educate and train these pioneers to bring more diversity and inclusion to job sites around Canada.”  

CBC News Toronto coverage of the program

On March 8, 2021 — International Women's Day — CBC Toronto spoke to students about their experience in the WTTE program. 

Visit to see the story.