Third year apprentice carpenter Joy Wosk stepped into the trades to follow her passion of working with her hands but never expected just how valuable this career could be.

Mediaplanet Why did you pursue a career in the trades?

Joy Wosk I promised myself I wouldn’t end up working in an office doing something I hate. I love building things and the opportunity to work outside. I am always on my feet, and there is never a dull moment.

MP What are you doing now — what position and type of work?

JW I am a third year apprentice carpenter working mostly on renovations. My workload consists of framing walls, building forms, installing cabinets, baseboard, hanging doors, as well as mixing and pouring concrete.

MP How do you like it — what are the best parts of your day to day?

JW I love it! Finishing a project knowing I excelled at my job. I love my crew so every day is full of fun and laughter.

MP How did your education and training bring you to where you are now?

"There is a stigma surrounding the trades that it doesn’t offer a viable career or that there are no opportunities for advancement — that only people who don’t do well in high school should go into the trades. Young Canadians need to know going into the trades doesn’t just get you a job — it will give you a valuable career.  Having a trade will give you skills you will be able to use for the rest of your life."

JW When I was in high school I was enrolled in the Ace-It program for carpentry. Through that program I was able to complete my level one in the carpentry apprentice process — the first step in a four-year program of both workplace and in-school hours — while completing high school. I was offered a job by a company my class did work experience for. I’ve been with that company for the past 20 months, and last May I went to the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) to complete my level two.

MP How do you continue to learn and develop your skillset?

JW I happen to be very lucky to work with a number of skilled carpenters that are eager to teach.  I have competed in a number of carpentry competitions including Skills Canada and the LNG Game Changer competition. In the next year I plan to go back to school to complete my level three.

MP What are some of the biggest issues barring more young people in B.C. from pursuing a career in the trades?   

JW There is a stigma surrounding the trades that it doesn’t offer a viable career or that there are no opportunities for advancement — that only people who don’t do well in high school should go into the trades. Young Canadians need to know going into the trades doesn’t just get you a job — it will give you a valuable career.  Having a trade will give you skills you will be able to use for the rest of your life.

MP What sort of potential do you see within the skilled trades for Canada’s youth on the verge of entering the workforce?

JW The industry is booming in British Columbia but there aren’t enough people to fill all of the jobs available. There is so much support for apprentices at school and on the job.

MP How is being a woman in the trades different than being a man?

JW It’s hard to find work boots in women’s sizes [laughs]. I have found that I have to work harder to prove myself. Not only do I have to show I’m good at my trade, but I also have to prove I have a right to be in a trade. I definitely receive more judgement from people who don’t work in the trades and more support from people in my industry. 

MP What advice do you have for other girls considering the trades? Any tips for success?

JW If it is something that you enjoy and could potentially see as a career go for it — don’t let anyone stop you. Let your work speak for itself and don’t get caught up in the politics.

MP What does the next 5–10 years look like for you?

JW In the next five years I would like to have finished my apprenticeship and received my Red Seal so that my qualification are recognized across Canada. After I get my Red Seal in carpentry I would like to start a new apprenticeship in joinery. Following that, if everything goes according to plan, I will start a residential construction company with my brother who is currently in school for business.