Local programs encouraging more women to join the trades

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OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – There is only one female plumber in the Mechanical Contractors Association of Omaha.

I sat down with a recent Ralston High School graduate who hopes to show women of her generation how bettering their lives doesn’t always mean going to a traditional four-year college. Sometimes other programs can be just as good.

“These young women will look me straight in the eye and say, ‘I can’t do this, I’m a girl,’ and I’m like, ‘No you can do whatever you want and there’s nothing about that job you can’t do, ”said Mike Barrett, organizer of Local 16 of Plumbers in Omaha.

“We’re just all people, doing our things, trying to get our work done, all that. I just see it, not like, ‘She’s a guy doing the job and she’s a girl doing the job. It’s like you’re all just people doing your job. So because I see it that way, I have no reason to feel intimidated, ”said Aliyah Robinson, a recent Ralston High graduate who is interested in plumbing.

“We’re really trying to hit schools, and even colleges at this young age, and show them that it’s not just a man’s world anymore. There is absolutely room for women here,” said Kelsey Johnson, Executive Vice President. from the Association of Mechanical Contractors of Omaha.

Apprenticeship programs are growing in popularity due to the shortage of workers in the trades. These programs allow you to learn your trade and, in some cases, earn an associate’s degree, all debt-free. You could make $ 20 an hour and sometimes more.

“I hope this will motivate my own people to jump on the same bandwagon. I feel like a lot of people feel like I have to go to college and get into debt just to have a good life. for myself. It’s not necessarily the case. so hard, it’s just that you have to find the right things. It’s about working smarter, not harder, “said Robinson.

Trades companies are ahead in many areas of work as their unions strive to end the wage gap.

“A young woman doesn’t have to worry about the man next to her earning more money. Everyone who has this license gets the exact same salary, and if you think it’s not the “case, you ask them to see their pay. If it’s more than yours, you’re going to get it fixed at the union hall. That’s why we’re at 4801 F Street,” Barrett said.

Children who are interested in trades – boys and girls – often have a common obstacle to overcome.

“Often the biggest hurdles you face are the parents. They hear about plumber or installer and they always have that old-fashioned mindset where they don’t want their child to be a plumber or installer. It’s a job. work, hard labor, blue collar workers, but the truth is you make more money when you graduate from your apprenticeship as a plumber or installer than a lot of those kids who go to college for four years and graduate knee deep in debt, ”Johnson said.

Nine schools in our area partner with Avenue Scholars, helping school-aged children find commercial jobs.

You can always contact the Mechanical Contractors Association of Omaha or the Nebraska Center for Workforce Development and Education.

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