Mary Clarke, the Community Outreach Coordinator with the WRDC-ERC, was at Fitzgerald Academy recently working with grade seven and eight girls in an educational program called Girls in Renewable Energy and Alternative Technologies (GREAT).
Ms. Clarke said, “The mandate of the Women in Resource Development Corporation-Educational Resource Centre) is to increase the participation of women in the non-traditional skilled trades. Through this “learn by doing” program we want to show young girls that they can become engineers, electricians, plumbers, technicians, iron workers or in any career in the skilled trades they may want to pursue.”
According to Ms. Clarke women only fill four per cent of the skilled trade jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador today (the number increases to seven per cent when you take in chefs).
“We need to increase that per centage,” Ms. Clarke said, “and that is the main purpose of this program, to have young girls in grades seven and eight that they can become part of the skilled trade force later on.
“We want to break down the perceived barriers that many young girls have that stop them from even considering a career in the skilled trades, barriers such as ‘only men can do this’ or ‘this is men’s work only’.
“We can break down those barriers by providing hands-on experience to encourage the young girls to consider the energy future and especially in alternative sources of energy.”
The young girls involved with the program at Fitzgerald Academy were certainly leaning by hands-on activities as they were stripping wires, testing voltage in batteries, putting alligator clips and pigtails on wires and learning how to ground a wire.
A part of the GREAT program is to also teach students about how to measure their carbon footprint in learning how to save electricity and to realize that there are alternative energy sources such as Muskrat Falls, wind turbines and gas developments.
Ms. Clarke said, “We want to show the girls the value of electricity and to have them understand the possibilities of developing alternative energy sources such as solar panels
and wind power. We want to encourage these young girls to think about our future energy needs and the climate impacts on energy consumption patters in the province.
“This program will introduce them to career opportunities in sustainable and green technological industries and will inspire them to consider the environment and what they can do to reduce green house gases in their workplaces and their daily lives.”