North Delta single mom finds a plumb new career
Nearly two years ago, Cathy Minty was is a desperate situation.
Having just moved back to North Delta, the mother of five young children, ranging in age from four to 13 years old, found herself separated from her husband and unemployed.
Having grown up in North Delta, with family close by, helped initially. However, with the high cost of living in the Lower Mainland – including daycare fees – the situation became tough very quickly.
"My parents have been incredible helping with everything, including the kids," said Minty. "But my money soon ran out and I realized I needed a career like yesterday."
So she started researching jobs online, but it was a challenge finding something that could support five children.
Going back to school would be extremely expensive, and Minty knew that even if she was able to scrape up the money, working and supporting five kids while she went to school would have been impossible.
That's when she remembered something her father had once said after getting some work done on his house: "Someone always needs a plumber. That would be a great job."
So Minty started researching how to become a plumber.
She found a course through the Piping Industry Apprenticeship Board called Piping Opportunities for Women being offered on Annacis Island.
After doing some further research, she discovered there was a fully funded course offered through the Industry Women in Trades Training Initiative (WITT), which is part of the Industry Training Authority (ITA) – the body that regulates and funds trades training in the province.
In fact, WITT paid for the full course, all of Minty's childcare for her first six weeks, gave her a gas allowance, lunch every day an even supplied work boots and pants for the job.
"Who would have thought I would love construction?" said Minty now. "I play the harp and in high school I took sewing, theatre and English. I had never even used a drill before I started this course."
According to Jessi Zielke, director of strategic initiatives with ITA, of the more than 30,000 apprentices currently enrolled in trades training, 10.5 per cent are women.
Trades have also become more technical and today provide more interesting opportunities for women. And with new power-assisted equipment, the physical side of the work is much easier as well.
"Many women like the idea that you actually get a wage while you are getting your on-the-job training," said Zielke. "It's earn while you learn."
Now working six days a week building enough hours to complete her first-year apprenticeship, Minty is beginning to see all the opportunities the trades can offer.
"Often, when it comes to construction, women feel they don't belong, but for women looking for a change in careers or are just starting out, this is a viable option" she says, "The funding is there, women just need to start looking outside the box."
To learn more about the Industry Training Authority's women in trades initiative, go to