Making Life Happen!

Durham Continuing Education is a place where adult learners can complete their high school diploma and make plans for a new career. Tabitha Higgins was looking for a new start in the skilled trades. She had worked as a legal secretary (” skirts and blazer career”) and as a bartender. Both jobs were fun, but did not make life happen for Tabitha.

She wanted to begin an apprenticeship in the skilled trades and found out about the Building & Maintenance program at Durham Continuing Education. She enrolled in September 2004 and started her Cooperative Education placement in December 2004.

The best part of the course was the “hands-on learning” and the information about life as a skilled trades professional. Her teacher, John Cooney, has experience in the construction trades and shares this with all the students. Tabitha loved the practical activities in the classroom – “Getting to touch everything and learning how to handle the tools” created a passion for the skilled trades.Tabitha and Glenn Pitcher

A Cooperative Education placement with G.P. Electric reinforced her career plan to begin an apprenticeship as an electrician. On the second day of her placement, Tabitha told her placement supervisor, ” I will make you want to hire me.”

Her placement supervisor, Glenn Pitcher, noticed that Tabitha was able to follow instructions and was eager to learn all she could during the placement. Glenn was impressed with Tabitha who was punctual and stayed at the job until it was finished.

During her final week at the placement, Glenn asked if she was interested in an apprenticeship. She already knew this was what she wanted to do for her future career. Tabitha says, “It was amazing to be offered this chance and to make life happen.”

For others who are considering the skilled trades, Tabitha advises: ” Do it. Don’t let others tell you differently. Don’t let them look down on you. Women can do it. Be strong. Prove your abilities. The men sometimes look at me and wonder if I can do this, but I just impress them with my skills.”

For the future, Tabitha wants to complete her apprenticeship, and by the age of 40 she would like to have her own business.

Glenn Pitcher tells other contractors that if they want skilled labour, they need to hire and train apprentices. The successful apprentice will have good listening skills, be able to learn quickly, be willing to do all jobs, and be in good physical condition. Glenn has worked for 21 years in the electrical trade. Tabitha is the first female apprentice he’s worked with, and he is very happy with her commitment and her work.

If you are interested in work and/or apprenticeship, contact Durham Continuing Education regarding the Building & Maintenance program. 905-440-4532

Article and photo courtesy of Durham Continuing Education, Transition to Work Programs Department

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