Nebraska trade school sees influx of women joining electrical field

Local trade school sees an influx of women joining a male-dominated field.
Local trade school sees an influx of women joining a male-dominated field.(WOWT)
Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 10:24 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A local trade school says they are starting to see a shift in who is applying.

They say the male-dominated field is seeing a shake-up with more women than ever before.

Jennifer Helvik didn’t always picture herself as an electrician. Just a few years ago she was in nursing school.

“After pursuing a very different career path before this, I realized that college wasn’t for me. Once my scholarship ran out I just didn’t want to get into a bunch of student loan debt to continue. That was kind of my wake-up call moment,” said Jennifer Helvik, Electrical Apprentice.

Helvik says she spent some time researching what her next career move should be. That’s when she landed on the trades.

She’s currently an apprentice with IBEW Local 22 doing electrical work.

And she’s not alone. The union’s Training Director, Kevin Wetuski, says the typically male-dominated classes here are starting to change.

This year the union has more women apprentices than they ever have. Sixteen women are currently going through the program.

“Yeah, this is by far biggest,” said Wetuski.

Wetuski says just a few years ago—there weren’t any women going through the program.

He says in the coming years we can expect to see more women in the program—with recruiting picking up in high schools along with educating people on the benefits and pay the jobs brings with it.

“I think it’s great. The more success that we have and the more that the word gets out I think it’s going to grow even more,” said Wetuski.

Helvik says the program has grown so much—just a few months ago they created a committee for the women going through the program.

“I think that has been huge for every woman involved. The apprenticeship or those that are turned out just to share ideas and experiences because I think a lot of times you will be the only woman on the job site until more women do join the construction workforce.”

While there’s still more work to be done—Helvik says she wants people to know this career is meant for women.

“You can do anything you put your mind to. You don’t have to have any previous electrical knowledge or tool knowledge. They’ll teach you everything.”

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