In recognition of International Women’s Day and our support for UN Women's Campaign HeForShe, we caught up with Mastercam’s President of CNC software, Meghan West to talk about the opportunities in the manufacturing industry for women and youth. Hear how the evolution of the industry is transforming careers into the dream jobs of the future.
As a joiner not just by trade, but also by nature, Justina Ashiyana was naturally attracted to participating in skills competitions – and she quickly found that they can open doors and horizons.
The Namibian was the only female participant in Joinery at her country’s National Skills Competition last year, but she refused to let the ratio of 11 men to one woman faze her. The result was a “life-changing experience”, which has helped her career and broadened her outlook.
“It enhanced my self-esteem, allowed me to learn about new techniques and technologies, and made me believe I can achieve whatever I set my mind to,” she said. “It encouraged me to realise that women can be artisans in male-dominated trades.”
“Skills competitions enable young people to see a skilled professional in action, and to discover or explore their passion. They show employers that the future of artisans depends on a sustainable, effective, and gender-balanced training system.”
When Dara Howlett took part in a WorldSkills Competition last year, she realised that what she really wanted to do was work with wood.
The cabinetmaker from Ireland selected her skill because of the sense of accomplishment she gets from transforming ideas into reality, and her determination to follow a design path that deviates from existing perceptions.
“I chose the cabinetmaking skill because I like woodwork and have never been the sort of person who decides not to do something just because it isn’t considered the norm,” she explained. “It really didn’t cross my mind that I shouldn’t try it just because I’m a girl. And it was like nothing I’d ever done before. It gave me a sense of where I would like to see myself, and has made me push myself to a point I never thought I’d reach.”
The allure of cabinetmaking for Dara is its outlet for expression. “So many people do things they don’t particularly like to make a living,” she said. “I’m lucky to be doing something I love.”
Member organizations of WorldSkills have been voicing their commitment to the equality agenda, throughout International Women’s Day. Forty six Members, from across the globe, have stated their support for the UN Women campaign HeForShe. This follows the endorsement of HeForShe at the WorldSkills General Assembly in Niagara Falls last year.
“One of the challenges, is that there are not enough women in skills, trades and technologies”, said the CEO of WorldSkills, David Hoey. “I can assure you that it is one of the best career opportunities. So to all women, please have a look, consider a career, and you will be amazed at the opportunities.”
Over the past week WorldSkills has published profiles with some of the most accomplished young women to compete in skills competitions at the international, regional, and national level. All their stories are inspiring in different ways.
A love of cars outstripped life in the classroom for Rebecca Wilson, who pursued one of the most stereotypically male-dominated jobs imaginable – and found that gender is irrelevant.
Rebecca, from Northern Ireland, helped her father fix cars from a young age, and as she says, “We had race-cars at home, so it was only natural I went into the motor trade – when I left school at 16, I began an Advanced Apprenticeship in Vehicle Refinishing, as I preferred to be outside doing something.”
Her learning provider, Riverpark Training, introduced her to skills competitions, and after narrowly missing out on WorldSkills Leipzig 2013, her persistence paid off when she secured a Team UK place for WorldSkills São Paulo 2015, competing in Car Painting against 19 rivals – and surpassing her expectations by winning bronze.