March 19 was a day that changed Tamara Crabbe’s life.
A high school drop-out who had worked in construction for 10 years, it was on this day that she started a commercial driving program at Douglas College.
“I was sick of watching time pass by and not being happy doing what I was doing,” she said.
“It was time to make my future brighter. To be given this opportunity is not something I have taken lightly. Doing this course has given me the chance to have a financially stable future, and to enjoy the career that I am immersed in.”
Crabbe is one of 18 women in the YWCA Changing Gears program to benefit from this training, thanks to funding from the province.
On June 7, Garry Begg, MLA for Surrey-Guilford, announced that the province is committing $764,800 through the Community and Employer Partnerships program for 29 people — including 18 women and 11 newcomers to Canada — to go through the essential skills driver training at Douglas College to earn their Class 1 licences.
More than 14,000 job openings in trucking are expected in the next 10 years, along with 4,000 for transit drivers.
“This truly is an emerging field,” said Begg, who made the announcement at Valley Driving School in Langley.
“It’s a growing industry, one that can provide each of you with many opportunities. While these two projects offer the industry qualified staff, they also help to create more diversity in the sector, and that’s important … Diversity is evident and it is going to make the industry much stronger.”
Women currently represent 3 per cent of truck drivers in Canada, but these numbers are starting to increase, added Tina Hurd, program manager for YWCA Metro Vancouver, which provides training for women to enter male-dominated industries.
“We’re women, this is barrier going into the industry — it’s real, it’s happening,” she said. “And the women are facing stereotypes, so they’re gender based … Dealing with their confidence from their employers or potential employers, from their co-workers, friends, family — they don’t have that encouragement that they necessarily need to get in the industry. And that’s why our program is great, because it provides that opportunity for women.”