On this episode, we'll get the insight from women in the skilled trade industry about how trades aren't just for men and how women are making solid careers out of the programs offered by Lincoln Tech.
Lincoln's mission is to provide superior education and training to our students for in-demand careers in a supportive, accessible learning environment, transforming students' lives and adding value to their communities.
Alison Neuman, Program Manager of Workforce Development at Johnson Controls, Inc. - Buildings Solutions North America: The skilled trades are for everyone. I agree that stereotypically we would say or in the past it's a male dominated career. But being a technician in the field is a phenomenal opportunity for both men and women.
Morgan Woodtke, Lincoln Tech Graduate and Diesel Technician: My advice to any woman who wants to get into this, don't be scared.
Jennifer Hash, President of Lincoln Tech’s Denver, CO campus: When I got into this industry, I would say probably about 3 to 5% of our students were female. I looked at it today at the Denver campus. 11% of our students are female. You know, there's creative things with collision. It's not just wrenching on cars.
Host: Welcome to the official podcast of Lincoln Tech. On this episode, we'll talk to the women who encourage other women that are currently working in the trade industry and how the trades aren't just for men anymore. Lincoln Tech’s mission is to provide superior education and training to our students for in demand careers in a supportive, accessible learning environment, transforming students’ lives and adding value to their communities. Now let's chat with the women who make the trades program great.
Hash: I'm the campus president at Lincoln Tech in Denver, Colorado. We are a skilled trades college and we train technicians in auto diesel, HVAC, collision, electrical and welding.
Host: I always thought that women weren't interested in the trade field, but I'm guessing that I'm wrong here.
Hash: Women got into the trades, I believe, during World War two, when soldiers had to go off to war. Women went into the factories to build airplanes and ships and everything. That's how Lincoln Tech was founded. When soldiers were coming back, we wanted to make sure that they were trained and had a skill that they can go into work and get back into society coming from the wartime. Over the years, we saw the decline in women being in skilled trades after that when the men came back. But recently it is still definitely a male dominated industry and our focus with the skilled trades gap is women were an untapped resource to be able to make sure those skilled trades continue to move on and that gap closes. We talk about it all the time and with the high school students, with the adult students that we need people not just going the traditional university route. We need students to be able to go into the skilled trades since there is such a need in those industries.
Host: What would you say to the women out there about the program?
Hash: I would just say skilled trades is an amazing opportunity for anybody, even though it's a male dominated field, that women can be very successful in it. It's all about getting that education. And Lincoln Tech does provide an amazing education for skilled trades and has that support system. We work with a lot of industry employers that want to grow their female population and their female staff, and we're here to help that. We're excited to help with it and it is a great industry to get into being both with the education being only about a year and then working with our career services department to obtain those employment opportunities.
Neuman: My name is Allison Newman. I'm the program manager for workforce development for Johnson Controls and I support workforce development strategies for all of North America.
Host: So Allison, what's so good about this program?
Neuman: I think exploring a career, being technician, being in the skilled trades is very, very attractive to women. When you compare costs of a technical degree versus a 4year degree, it's astronomically cheaper. You are able to enter the workforce faster. Yes, you may still incur some debt, right, to pay for it, but you are going to be earning dollars much faster than a student that's having to pay back student loans. And it's a field in which the yes, there is the hands-on piece, but more and more women, we are getting them into STEM, getting them attracted to robotics competitions and STEM based curriculum in the middle schools and high school so that the next path doesn't necessarily have to be an engineer in a four year school. How about I get an electronics certificate? How about I get an HVAC certificate, start getting that hands-on experience, start making some money? We have technicians that within 8 to 10 years with overtime, they're making six figures. So no debt and they're making six figures. And what's incredible is once you are in we've had women technicians that you enter as a technician, you do very well. Obviously, performance in your current job will predict your future job. So you do really well in your current job and hitting your deliverables and servicing your customers and being innovative. Then there's opportunities for you to grow. You can continue to grow in the technical track. Someone might say, man, I love this piece. It has to be they are very innovative and solving problems, and so many of our women have saw that as an opportunity to say, I'd love to get into sales, right? I know the hands-on piece and I see that there's an opportunity that I could do both. I can do the technical piece as well as sales. So, you know, there's a career path that they can go into sales. Then once you're with an employer, guess what? Take advantage of tuition reimbursement. If at some point in time you say, wow, now I would love to get maybe a business degree and open up my own business, then why don't you utilize tuition reimbursement offered by that employer to continue to grow in your career? It really has so many advantages. I think it's a great way, like I said, to start your career, learn what you like and then drive your career in the direction that you find interesting. But a skilled trade gets you there much, much faster than only feeling that your track is to go, you know, a four-year degree.
Host: Do women feel they have what it takes for the trades?
Neuman: I want to change the mindset of women to say, you have what it takes. You have what it takes to be a technician. This is an awesome way to start your career in the technical field. You can continue on the technical track, you can move into management, you can move into sales. There's so many ways in which you can kind of continue to accelerate your career, but really exploring a technical field. If any woman is out there vacillating, wondering, gosh, should I do this? Please, please reach out to local employers like Johnson Controls to see if you can shadow and get a flavor of what it really is because there's so many great opportunities and where our technicians are headed. I think women play a very, very instrumental part in making that happen. Because of the customer service piece. The problem-solving piece is so very, very important along with the technical aspects. And I just think women are right to take this on and to challenge themselves to say rather than not me to say why not me and give it a try.
Woodtke: My name is Morgan Woodtke. I am 24 years old and I graduated from Lincoln Tech in 2021, and I'm currently the lead tech at Penske Truck Leasing in Hartford, Connecticut.
Host: What does your job entail?
Woodtke: I do mostly the advanced diagnostics there. I am also the district specialist for international trucks. Any of the internationals, even surrounding states who have issues diagnosing those trucks, they get sent to me. So lots of electrical diagnostics, emissions issues and sometimes even catastrophic failures.
Host: As a graduate of Lincoln Tech, what drove your decision to go there?
Woodtke: So my older brother Tyler actually graduated from Lincoln Tech 10 or 11 years ago, and he loved it and he became a successful mechanic. So that kind of pointed me in the right direction. I was like, well, if it works for him, I'm sure it'll work for me. And I went there to tour the school and the staff was so friendly and welcoming. And the second time I went back to the school, they actually had remembered me from the first time. It's definitely a very personal feel you get there.
Host: Morgan, what has your experience been thus far?
Woodtke: My experience with it has definitely been interesting. I always felt like I needed to prove myself more so than any man would have to. I feel like eyes are on me more than a man in the industry, so I feel more pressured for sure. I feel like I have to work twice as hard to get noticed in a positive way, and I feel like if I were to make a mistake, then you know everyone's going to know about it. My advice to any woman who wants to get into this, don't be scared. In my opinion, I think women tend to be more detail oriented, which is a huge factor in mechanics. And as long as you're willing to prove yourself and you find a great employer who gives you the opportunity, take it and run with it.
Host: So, Jen, we have to ask the important question here. What's the money like for those in the trades?
Hash: That's a great question. We can't guarantee what people can make, but it is not a minimum wage career. And there's many opportunities once you get into the industry to move and promote yourself. We focus on getting students prepared for entry level positions within these industries and where they go from there is the exciting part. We have many graduates and alumni that come back and speak about their opportunities and what they've done, whether it's opening up their own shop or getting into management or running a team.
Host: Alison, any final thoughts on the trades program at Lincoln Tech?
Neuman: If women only think that being a technician is, oh my gosh, I'm going to be up on a roof and carrying a lot of weight and getting greasy and all that, people won't want to go into it, right? I mean, when you think of it differently and having that ability, using those different skills and I'm really happy to say with our Lincoln Tech partnership, we've had it for five years now. We've hired many women, obviously still a higher propensity of men than women. But what I love about Lincoln Tech is they started by serving our veterans. Coming out of World War Two is how Lincoln Tech started. There’s many of the women that are Lincoln Tech students that are also veterans that we have then hired into the organization. All of our Lincoln Tech hires we’re incredibly proud of. But we are hiring women out of Lincoln Tech and they're absolutely phenomenal. We started an additional program called the JCI Academy just in September of 2022, an additional six-week bootcamp postgraduation, where we hire them specifically to be security installers or fire service techs. And we've hired six women into that program already and they are doing a phenomenal, phenomenal job. So we're really excited about women technicians in Johnson Controls. Our Lincoln Tech Partnership is making that happen.
Host: Morgan, any advice for the women thinking about this program?
Woodtke: It's what you make it. You will only go as far as you push yourself. You could start in a job and only do oil changes forever, which is fine, but you're not going to be at the same pay scale as someone who wants to learn how to do clutch jobs or rebuild engines or do diagnostics. So don't be afraid to start and don't be afraid to move up any time your employer it. You know, take your time, go slow. Do it correct. Prove that you can do more than they think you can because that's how you move up in this industry for sure.
Host: And one last question. Did Lincoln Tech help you with your job search?
Woodtke: Oh, Lincoln Tech was the reason I got started. It was completely through them that I got a job. I was only going to school for three months when I got it, my first job through them. So I got an introductory level job at Firestone through them, which was an awesome starter position. You know, I got my feet wet. I learned a little bit. And then when I was ready to move up, they helped me get a job at an international truck dealership. And then I stayed there for a few years until I received a better opportunity elsewhere. But Lincoln Tech, they'll help you write your resume. They'll review it, make sure it sounds good. They'll even set up interviews for you; they do all the dirty work for you. And, you know, as long as you're a good student there and you put your best efforts in, I can guarantee you'll get a job through them.
Host: Thanks for listening. For more information about women in trades and how to enroll, schedule a visit or talk to career services, visit lincolntech.org.
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