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News , Services for Women , Women's Programs | Jun 12, 2019 | Back to List

On Monday, May 20th, Vermont Works for Women graduated fourteen women and gender non-conforming individuals from its new Trailblazers: Women in the Construction Trades pre-apprenticeship program at SkillTech (Center for Technology at Essex). Graduates earned the state-recognized NCCER Core Curriculum certification plus other industry credentials, along with basic skills training in electrical, solar, plumbing, and pipefitting. This program, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Education and Training Administration, helps women access jobs in high demand, high wage sectors while directly supporting Vermont’s need for a pipeline of qualified construction trades workers. “We know the construction trades are in need of employees – and women have both interest and excellent capacities to work in these fields. We also know providing initial training in an all-female setting increases recruitment and retention of women in male-dominated fields,” Jen Oldham, Executive Director of Vermont Works for Women (VWW)

With interest in the program already exceeding capacity, VWW is planning, with support from the Vermont Department of Labor, to train 15 more women this fall at the Center for Technology at Essex. This will be in addition to the Trailblazers at Hartford Area Career and Technology Center in White River Junction already underway from June 4th – July 30th. And May 15th saw the inaugural meeting of a 7-week electrical and solar training for eight women at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.

Beyond the skills training, VWW connects trainees to women currently in the trades and has set up a Facebook group called Vermont Tradeswomen. “Having a support network can make all of the difference, especially when you are just getting started,” says Danielle Bombardier, licensed electrician, trainer, and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a VWW partner in the program. Trainees cite being able to ask questions of other women in the field among the most helpful and inspiring parts of the program. Working closely with local employers and Vermont Talent Pipeline members, VWW also organizes job shadow opportunities, site visits, interviews, and ongoing job placement assistance for all program graduates. For more information, contact Missy Mackin at


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