Finding Community in Skilled Trades - Miho's Story

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Miho Hind is navigating new worlds - she's a new mom and a Level 1 plumbing apprentice. Starting a new career was something on her radar, but as a new mom she knew she needed some support in getting the wheels in motion. 

In the last few years, Miho Hind has transformed her life. She and her husband welcomed their first child, and on top of that she decided to change careers and explore the skilled trades. She is a trained musical instrument repair technician from Japan, but in Canada she found it hard to find fellow professionals and the support in that niche trade. While she was a highly skilled technician in Japan, her certification did not hold the same weight in Canada. Her training and affinity for hands-on technical work drew her to exploring skilled trades and it was her brother-in-law who shared his experience as a plumber and encouraged her to explore that path.

“I really liked to hear his experience and wanted to become a plumber as well but I know it’s going to be a challenge to change careers… He’s the one that inspired me to get into trades, for sure,” reflected Miho.

Her brother-in-law also suggested that she reach out to the BC Centre for Women in the Trades (BCCWITT), as one of his female classmates had received support through them. For Miho, she was looking for support in developing a plan for this next phase of her career. As an immigrant, she wasn’t familiar with how to start training and the apprenticeship process, especially with the challenges of being a new mom.

“Having a child is already a life changing experience to begin with, but now I’m trying to change a career…get into something new. I didn’t know how to start,” said Miho. She reached out to BCCWITT and through the Employment and Training Program, they connected her with someone who helped Miho prepare to start an apprenticeship.

“I shared my concerns or challenges. I’d like to become a plumber, but this is my challenge – I feel like I have a barrier. She gave me a lot of information, useful information to get ready for school, like you should study this way. I even took math class before I started… and after that she just kept continuously checking in. How I’m doing and yeah, kind of like a supportive mom for me. In a good way.”

Some of the other skills BCCWITT’s Employment and Training Program helped her with included time management, which was critical to helping her balance the demands of life and school. They also helped her navigate issues such as childcare and tuition. The program helped Miho set up a path for success by connecting her up with resources and guidance to ensure her training would go smoothly. The support went beyond logistical and training resources, staff would regularly check in on Miho to see how it was going and continue to encourage her. The lived experience of staff (female tradesperson) was also instrumental in providing nuanced and informed guidance to Miho.  

She mentions, “they have so much experience helping people already…and have a background of being in skilled trades so they understand everybody’s challenges and like any question basically because not many women in the worksite especially construction. Of course, people don’t know where to start or who to talk to…they have all the answers. They have all the help and knowledge experience…they have your back.”

 During her technical training (in class education) she found a mentor in instructor Darren Hall (Plumbing & Piping Trades).

“He was very supportive when I had a struggle with any topic. He was very patient and had different ways to show me…he drew a picture, not just telling me what to do… He did had many different ways to show me and explain his experience as a plumber so I can picture myself working as a plumber… I was not the strongest so he told me all the tricks I can use, what kind of exercise I can do. I’m very grateful.” 

Her current employer is also a huge help – and shares her challenges as a parent as well and is understanding when childcare issues pop up and allowing scheduling flexibility. Miho is enjoying working in plumbing and the new challenge that every day brings. 

“Every day learning something new which I miss so much – as I get older or stopped working, it gets kind of routine. It’s so different at work and when I get to work for different people everyone has skills and tricks and every day it blows my mind what they do. It looks so easy, so let me try it. It’s so different, so hard – I’m always learning and I love that part.”

While she is still in her Level 1 – she has her eyes set on achieving her Red Seal certification. 

“I hope I can obtain the Red Seal within 10 years. I’m sure I will but that’s my first goal. It feels like I have earned something myself. I worked hard for this. Just because I’m not from here, Canada, I don’t really have anything to show what I have. I have…certificate from a college or university from Japan. I can’t use that here sometimes. Especially when I went for technical training in Japan, because it wasn’t transferrable, I couldn’t prove myself. So to me, the Red Seal is something I worked really hard at and I got to prove myself.”

Miho also wants to give back to the community that has given so much to her and encourage others to explore a career in the skilled trades. She was so impressed and happy to see so much support and different kinds of communities that she’s joined just by starting her trades journey – whether that’s in school, women in trades or within the wider skilled trades community. 

“I met many great people including teachers, classmates and when I started working – coworkers. I haven’t met many people, I guess I was in a small community for so long…that there’s so many opportunities and people from different background and trying to become a plumber. Just meeting people really amazed me and affected my life a lot in a good way.

I want people to start talking to WorkBC or SkilledTradesBC or Women in Trades (BCCWITT). Those resources are really, really helpful. They’re so helpful, like just information itself or what kind of supports they could help you get into that first step. Take a first step. So I like to just share. I really changed my life… 

I want people to start connecting and getting those communities bigger. The feeling we have is so tight and everybody is so welcoming. The community can be very hidden, I want people to please come in. People are so willing to share their experiences so much and the world feels very welcoming.”