Technical schools work to enroll more women in programs

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As Colorado faces a need for skilled workers, young women who are pursuing careers in areas like construction, welding and automotive repair are finding more doors opening to them.

Kendra Lewis, a graduate of Pickens Technical College in Aurora, was recently promoted to foreman at RK Industries in Denver.

“I’ve been there for five years, started as a welder and worked my way up,” Lewis said.

Lewis is also an adviser at Pickens Technical College, where young women like Aria Stedman continue to be a minority in the welding program.

“I thought it was super cool that I’m one of the only women here and I wish more women would do it,” Stedman said.

Courtney Gault, a freshman in Pickens’ automotive program, is also surrounded by mostly male students.

“It was noticeable, but I realized maybe I have a chance to show some of these boys up, show that I can be as good as them,” Gault said.

Automotive graduate Generosity Laws said women may still be turned off by the physical demands of the job, or the perceived “dirty work,” but said with evolving technology, there’s no reason for women to write off these careers.

“Just because it’s hard, just because you have to be strong, doesn’t mean you can’t do and it doesn’t mean you can’t find better ways to do it,” Laws said.

Lewis agreed and said skilled trades offer job security.

“You can work for somebody, you can work for yourself, or you can join a union,” she said.

In addition to welding and automotive repair, Pickens Technical College offers programs in construction, advanced manufacturing, collision repair, HVAC, facilities maintenance, and motorcycle repair.