Sheila is a ticketed Sheet Metal worker at Viaduct Sheet Metal Ltd. in Surrey with 17 years of experience. She came into her career through a desire to provide for her family, curiosity and good luck and shared her experience of becoming a sheet metal worker with Skills Ready.
Sheila struggled as a youth in Vancouver’s traditional school system but soon found herself excelling in an alternative program that she would later graduate from with honours. After leaving school, Sheila started a family and stayed home for the following 10 years as a stay-at-home mom. Eventually, she started looking for a job that could help her provide for her family and took on a number of jobs before discovering a newspaper article about women in trades.
“I thought, ‘I can do that,’” Sheila said with regards to the newspaper article. “I used to help my husband who was a plumber.”
The newspaper story inspired Sheila to enroll in a Women in Trades course at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). The course featured 20 trade samplers that allowed participants to get a hands-on experience of each discipline. Although woodworking had been her primary interest coming into the program, she soon developed an interest in metal work and fabrication.
Sheila then took an entry level course for Fabricating but had a hard time finding work following her completion of it.
Through a chance meeting with a customer at her waitressing job, Sheila discovered that for months she had been serving sheet metal workers who worked at a union training centre half a block away from the restaurant. After a productive conversation with one of the workers, she was set up with an interview at the training centre. That quickly led to applications at four nearby metal shops before being hired and officially starting her Sheet Metal career.
Seventeen years later, she is thriving in her role at Viaduct Sheet Metal, where she has been for the past 16 years, 15 of those on the floor. As her career has progressed, Sheila has taken on more and more responsibilities, centered around first aid and safety.
“It’s a good feeling job and you get to accomplish things,” she said. “My job has helped me to raise my children, purchase my own townhouse and my own vehicles.”
Sheila is thankful to have a good paying job that and still gets a kick out of seeing the projects she has worked on when she is out in the community.
“My favourite part of my job is that at the end of the day I get to look at the things that I’ve built; I’m so proud and so happy. I still drive by buildings and say ‘I made that!’ or ‘I worked on that building.’ I get pretty excited about that stuff.”