North Island College plumbing apprentice Cassandra Kuryliak works in the plumbing station at NIC’s Comox Valley campus. Photo supplied

North Island College plumbing apprentice urges women to explore the trades

North Island College plumbing apprentice Cassandra Kuryliak is encouraging more women to take up the plumbing trade, just in time for Apprenticeship Recognition Week, Nov. 4-10.

“My family all work in the trades, so it was always something I considered as a career,” said Kuryliak. “I started as a motorcycle mechanic and then did maintenance work in Alberta which is where I discovered I really enjoyed plumbing. I was offered a plumbing apprenticeship and jumped at the chance.”

After completing her first year in Alberta, Kuryliak came to Vancouver Island for her second and third years.

“I heard NIC has a great program,” said Kuryliak. “The student-to-instructor ratio is low, so you get a lot of hands-on time and time to ask questions and really delve into the materials. I would definitely recommend coming here.”

Kuryliak enjoys the challenge of plumbing.

“It’s a lot of math and troubleshooting,” she said. “You have to figure out why things aren’t working right or how to make them better. It’s really satisfying to face a challenging problem and find a solution.”

While many people think plumbing is just sinks and toilets, she enjoys, “the industrial side, doing pipefitting and working with larger valves. I also like working with gas lines. There’s so much to the trade and so many different things you can do with it.”

Her goal is to get her Interprovincial Red Seal, take some time to travel and maybe work internationally. “That’s why the Red Seal is so important to me,” she said. “I’d love to have the option of being able to work while I’m travelling and exploring the world before I settle down again.”

Kuryliak hopes other women will look at the trade as a career, especially young women still in high school.

“If you like working with your hands, take the opportunity to explore, not just plumbing but any trade you’re interested in,” she said. “If you can get into a pre-apprenticeship program, you’ll be supported through the process and you’ll get the chance to learn what you like. It’s a great opportunity.

While the field is male-dominated, she encourages women to try it. “There’s so much support for women in trades,” she said. “You’re joining a community that wants to help you succeed.”

Applications are being accepted into NIC’s Plumbing & Piping Foundation program, which begins in January at the Comox Valley campus. For more information on all NIC’s trades programs, visit www.nic.bc.ca/trades

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