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Trailblazers – Women in Energy and Construction

Services for Women , Spotlight , Women's Programs | Nov 11, 2019 | Back to List

When Vermont Works for Women was awarded a WANTO (Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations) grant from the Department of Labor one year ago, we were excited to get back to our roots and train women for jobs in the construction trades. What we didn’t anticipate was how excited Vermont women would be! Interest has far exceeded our expectations, with over 100 women requesting information about the program, 83 applying, and 46 accepted and enrolled to date. And the success of Trailblazers – Women in Energy and Construction continues as our fourth cohort graduates on November 25th. Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve done:

May 2019 at Center for Technology, Essex

July 2019 at Hartford Area Career and Technology Center, White River Junction

Recent Trailblazers graduates

A total of 26 women completed their 8-week Trailblazers training and earned certifications in NCCER Core Construction, OSHA 10, and CPR/First Aid. Among them were Hannah, a graduating high school senior, headed to a carpentry apprenticeship, who credited Trailblazers with “paving the way to go into adult life”; Alex, Tammie, and Nicole, all starting jobs with local construction companies; and a group which plans to start a non-profit to build tiny homes.

As part of their training, participants have multiple opportunities to network with mentors and potential employers through discussion panels, presentations, and job fairs. By connecting with people already in the trades, they begin to create networks of support for starting and developing their careers. One instructor/mentor recently echoed what many have said: “I love what you folks are doing with the program, not to mention the fun I had, and want to support [Trailblazers] as best I can.” We’re thankful for all the time and talent so many have contributed.

July 2019 at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, South Burlington

Seven incarcerated women at CRCF learned electrical and solar basics, completing a 7-week Trailblazers program geared toward providing them with skills to begin careers in the trades when they reenter the community. With very little programming available to them, the participants commented, “We need more of these types of programs here,” and said they “really enjoyed learning about everything, especially putting together an electrical panel, bending conduit, learning about the different wires.” Several grads plan to pursue electrical apprenticeships upon their release, which will provide them with ongoing training, a guaranteed wage scale, and health and retirement benefits.

November 2019 at Center for Technology, Essex

We’ll have 11 more women graduate— several of whom have already had interviews, and one who’s secured a job. After a Saturday spent building a picnic table and installing wiring, one participant summed up the group’s feelings: “I felt safe and supported [by instructors and students] to work outside my comfort zone…. my cohort was a great source of strength for me.”

We’re already planning the next session for Spring 2020, so stay tuned for updates by signing up for our newsletter. You can also contact Missy Mackin, Trailblazers Program Manager, at


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