Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Women in skilled trades talk of successes, roadblocks

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

Nikki Noble was 16 when she fell in love with welding.

“I went to a trades show and my friend’s dad had a booth set up with the Local 663 TIG welding,” said Noble, who’s now 36 and the Coordinator/Professor of Welding at Lambton College. “I welded two pieces of plate together and that was it — I just wanted to do more.”

She kept going, honing her craft, attending school, working at fabrication shops, and eventually became a Journeyperson Welder.

“Over the years I would see a random female welder here and there,” said Noble. “But I’d say in the last five years, I’ve seen a real focus on females interested, and it’s amazing.”

Noble is one of six panelists set to share their stories at an upcoming Women in Skilled Trades presentation through the Sarnia-Lambton Workforce Development Board (SLWDB).

“I always jump at the opportunity to share my story — I wish I’d had this kind of opportunity when I was growing up,” said Noble, who encourages women and girls to branch out and give the trades a try, especially when choosing high school courses. “If you have an interest, shoot for it. Nothing should get in the way but yourself.”

Research conducted by the SLWDB in 2019 showed a “drastic” need for skilled tradespeople locally, and identified a need to attract more youth and women to address the shortage.

“Jobs in the skilled trades remain posted to job boards for several months at a time,” the group noted in its 2020-2021 Local Labour Market Plan.

“Employers anticipate the current shortage will continue and likely increase in the next five years as the current workforce retires and/or large scale projects move forward.”

Of 11,075 people with a trade certificate or in an apprenticeship, only 2,155 were female, the group reported.

“We want to give a realistic picture of what a career in the skilled trades can give you,” SLWDB senior researcher Mikelle Bryson-Campbell said of the event, which also includes electricians Cyndie Caudle and Whitney Litchfield; Ironworker and Boilermaker Sam Lewis; CEDO Apprentice Nicole Spencer; and Elke Kleihauer-Ward, the first female Tool and Die Maker in Canada.

“They’re real about the journeys they’ve had, their success and the roadblocks they’ve encountered.”

The panel discussion, followed by a Q&A with the presenters, will be held virtually on Oct. 26 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Details can be found at


More like this