The GTA Construction Report Special Feature
Lee Wylie’s career has evolved as she combined knowledge and experience in graphic design, association work, and construction safety – leading to her current responsibilities as office manager with Construction Workplace Safety Training Ltd.
Wylie says a move to the Barrie area followed by a desire to explore a new career led her to the construction industry. “I was looking for a new opportunity and challenge and was hired in the offices of the Barrie Construction Association (BCA).”
Quickly understanding she would wear many hats within the association, Wylie says she took opportunities to learn and to meet people. “I’m a bit of a sponge when it comes to learning and I have a natural inclination to want to help people so when I wasn’t busy I was busy, looking for ways I could help someone with something else.”
Both of those skills would benefit both her and her new company when she made the move to Construction Workplace Safety Training (CWST) more than seven years ago. At the start she says it was just her and company owner Bruce Bolduc, so her role grew and evolved as the business expanded and as she learned more about this specific niche.
As her knowledge and experience increased, Bolduc placed more trust on her. “It can be overwhelming at times, staying on top of training changes and business growth and new responsibilities, but I’ve always loved those kinds of challenges. Now I run the office, schedule courses for trainers and can handle just about everything that comes along.”
She says a naturally inquisitive nature and constant desire to learn is beneficial, as is working with industry experts. “Bruce has a wealth of knowledge to share, both about the construction industry and safety training. Our trainers are also top-notch and highly experinced so I draw whatever I can from them.”
The connections she had made at the BCA and the relationships she had developed were also beneficial, as many of these people now came to her for training.
In her capacity within the training industry, Wylie connects with a diversity of people from different companies and different industry sectors. She says she recognizes that more women are getting involved in the trades, and in supervisory roles within the construction industry.
She also still recognizes though that it is still largely a male-dominated world. “I love to see young women working at apprenticeships and coming for training. The fact that I notice female attendees though is evidence that they are fairly few and far between.”
She says CWST is working more closely both with government and employment agencies, proactively training individuals so they can find work. “We’re also working more closely with high schools that are also being proactive in getting training for students.”
Wylie is optimistic that as these younger generations move into the trades they will be more welcoming, but she says now job sites can still be a difficult place for women. Nevertheless, the trades still offer great opportunities.
“Yes a woman may have to ‘tough it out’ when she gets into the industry, while she builds respect and experience, but that is a life skill that can be beneficial in many ways.”
Her advice to women considering or entering the trades is to stand their ground, to hold their head high, to embrace the challenge and be proud of what they can achieve.