Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)

What is the purpose of the Information Session and Career Decision Making Workshop? Do I have to attend them? Is there a cost?
The Information Session gives you an opportunity to learn about the different Women Building Futures programs, the application process, and ask questions of a Student Engagement Advisor.

The Career Decision Making Workshop is intended for those who may be unsure if a career in the trades is right for them. The workshop provides applicants with decision making tools to help determine if this is the right time to make a change, and identify any challenges that lay ahead.

You do not have to attend an Information Session or Career Decision Making Workshop. Both are optional although we highly recommend attending them. In our experience women who attend both have a much higher rate of success in applying for our programs and entering their trade of choice.

You must attend an Information Session before you attend a Career Decision Making Workshop.

*There is no cost to attend the Information Session or the Career Decision Making Workshop.

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What is the difference between the Journeywoman Start Program and the Basics Programs?
The 17 week Journeywoman Start (JWS) program is designed for women who are unsure which trade they want to go into. JWS students get hands on skills training in a wide variety of trades such as welding, carpentry, electrical, sheet metal, plumbing and pipefitting. The Welding, Electrical and Carpentry Basics programs are trade specific and designed for those who have a clear career goal and are ready to attend the 3 to 5 weeks of training and get working. The hands on skills training in the Basics programs is the same  training that is offered in the 17 week Journeywoman Start program. Both JWS and Basics programs include workplace culture training, safety certificates, job placement and job retention support.

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How do I decide which program to go into?
Attending the Career Decision Making Workshop can help provide you with tools to begin making this decision. Our suggestion is to start researching the different trades or occupations you might be interested in. This could include online research, watching YouTube videos, talking to people you know or interviewing people who work in the field. Our application form and funding application are designed so that you adequately research your field of interest and have a thorough understanding of the expectations and requirements.

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What if I have no construction experience?
Experience is not required but is considered an asset. Many of our applicants with little or no experience find great value in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. You can contact Habitat for Humanity directly for volunteer information. If you have the time, try volunteering for a few consecutive days to get a feel of what it’s like to work with tradespeople and be on a job site.

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Why do you only offer the Heavy Equipment Operator classes once a year?
Our Heavy Equipment Operating programs are offered once a year early in the spring, due to the seasonality of the work. Our students attend training early in the year so they are ready to work when the season begins and there is work available.

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Do I need a driver’s license to be a Heavy Equipment Operator? What if I only have my GDL?
Our Heavy Equipment Operator programs require you to have an unrestricted class 5 driver’s license. A GDL does not meet the requirements for this program.

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What if I want a trade that you don’t offer?
You are not limited to the six trades that we offer within our Journeywoman Start program. These trades are offered to give you a broad range of experience and training using a variety of tools and equipment. We have graduates that have obtained apprenticeships in a wide range of construction trades, such as crane operators, millwrights, boilermakers and more.

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How much do the programs cost? Why aren’t the costs of the programs posted online? Is funding available?
Program fees vary depending on eligibility for funding and student awards. WBF student advisors will help you explore options.

The costs of our programs aren’t posted online because each individual circumstance is so different. We don’t want to discourage applicants to explore working in non-traditional occupations or our programs, because of the cost.

We have a few different funding options to cover the cost of tuition and some living expenses to students who qualify. Our funding advisor works with each accepted student individually to obtain as much funding as possible.

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Can I take out a student loan to pay for my tuition?
We are a not for profit organization, not a post-secondary institution. You cannot access student loans to cover the cost of the tuition which is why we have funding options.

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How do I contact people in my field of interest? How do I find people to interview to complete my funding application?
The easiest place to start is to network with people you know. Talk to friends and family who are in your field of interest. If you know someone who works in construction but not in the trade you are interested in, chances are they will have contacts or know someone that you can call.

If you do not know anyone, the easiest thing to do is make a cold call. A cold call is when you call and speak to someone that you don’t know. Use the internet (Google, Monster, and Workopolis etc.) or newspapers (the classifieds section) to find companies in your trade of interest. Do not interview the receptionist or someone working in Human Resources, you will want to talk to someone working in your trade of choice to get a really good idea what that trade involves. Be prepared that the company you call may not be willing or have anyone available to speak with you. Don’t get discouraged, just call the next company.  Typically with cold calls, the best time to call is first thing in the morning before the start of the workday.

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Is there a cut-off date to apply to your programs?
We run our programs all year-round. We do suggest you apply a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks prior to the start date of your program. This is to ensure that all steps, including funding, are completed before your program begins. For our seasonal programs, or programs that are only offered once a year, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible as these programs tend to fill up quickly.

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What job growth opportunities are there for tradespeople?
Once you have your journeyman ticket, many employment options open up. You can continue working within your trade, pick up a complimentary trade, move up as a supervisor or foreman, and even move into safety inspection, training or management positions. There is also the option of starting your own business. Apprenticing in the trades is just the beginning of a very flexible career path.

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What wage can I expect to earn?
It depends on which trade you chose, your experience and the sector in which you choose to work (residential, commercial or industrial). Best of all, because the apprenticeship process is an "earn while you learn" system, there is no accumulated student loan debt to pay off at the end. For more specific occupational information visit www.tradesecrets.gov.ab.ca.

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Will I get hired once I complete the program?
WBF is proud of our graduate placement record. Over 90 per cent of our graduates are successful in securing and maintaining employment in the trades.

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Is there guaranteed employment after the program?
While we do not guarantee employment after the completion of our programs, we do work with each graduate to obtain employment. Our job placement success rate is consistently over 90 per cent. We work with over 170 employers who look forward to hiring our graduates.

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Who is hiring WBF grads?
WBF graduates have been hired to work as heavy equipment operators by Suncor and Imperial Oil Limited, we have pipefitters working for Ledcor, ready-mix drivers working for Lafarge, crane operators working for Mammoet, and many others working in and around Edmonton and throughout Alberta. There are more than 170 companies that have hired WBF graduates in the past two years. Graduates find employment as crane operators, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, instrumentation technicians, steamfitters, welders, sheet metal workers, millwrights, boilermakers and more.

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What is the WBF program environment like?
WBF programs offer you a supportive, safe environment in which you can build skills, confidence and a belief in the attainability of a non-traditional career. Career development and job coaching services complement our skills training to support graduates so that they can secure and retain a high wage career.

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What is workplace culture awareness?
This part of the program is unique to WBF. It was designed specifically to help women understand the expectations of the construction workplace and prepare them for work in a pre-dominatley male environment. For many women the construction sector is very different from places they’ve worked in the past; this program gives them the confidence to be successful.

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What are the qualifications of your instructors?
All of our skills instructors have their journeyman ticket in their trade. They have extensive experience on a variety of construction sites as well as instructional experience.

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Is a high school diploma or GED required for admission?
At this time, a high school diploma or GED is not required for admission, but you must pass a basic math exam and reading comprehension exam. Both math and reading comprehension are essential skills in any trade. If you need math upgrading to pass your exam, we also offer a two-week Math Boot Camp about six times a year.

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What is apprenticeship?
Apprenticeship typically takes 3-4 years and includes on-the-job training under the direct supervision of a qualified journeyman plus completing a required number of weeks per year of in-school technical training. Together, this training and education can enable an apprentice to become a journey-level worker who has thoroughly learned a craft and who can adjust to technological change and a variety of jobs.

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I am older, is it too late to pursue this career path?
There are no age limits in our programs. What is required is your ability to handle the physical and mental demands of the training program and occupation. 

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I’m not from Edmonton, where will I live while I’m in the program?
WBF has 42 units of affordable housing for WBF students. 18 of these units are for women with children. WBF staff works with out-of-town students to place them in these units, or to help find other suitable housing to meet their needs while enrolled in the WBF program.

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Sign up for an information session


WBF Imperial Haul Truck Operator Program FAQs

What is the application process?
You will need to visit the WBF Imperial Oil program page on our website and take a pre-assessment survey to determine if you meet the base eligibility criteria. If you meet the criteria you will be directed to the application for this program. If you do not meet the criteria you will be directed to review our other available programs. Successful applicants will be invited to an assessment.

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Where do I get a Criminal Record Check done?
Applicants who are selected to participate in WBF’s assessment and interview process will be asked to provide a clear criminal record check. Those invited to that stage will be provided a link to a secure service provider.

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Am I guaranteed a job with Imperial if I am accepted into the program?
No. Imperial is sponsoring this program with hopes to hire all 16 graduates but there is no guarantee they will hire all 16 graduates. All students will be given the opportunity to participate in Imperial’s Human Resource screening process. If you are not hired by Imperial, WBF will continue to work with you to find alternate employment.

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If I am hired by Imperial, how long am I required to stay working for them?
Imperial has not outlined a specific time frame that you must work for them, but the expectation is that you want to work as a Heavy Haul Truck Operator in Fort McMurray.

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If hired, what shifts will I work at Kearl Oil Sands?
The Kearl Oil Sands project is a fly-in fly-out, 11 days on and 9 days off shift rotation. Shifts are 12 hours and may be daytime or overnight shifts. The mine operates 365 days per year.

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Where is Kearl Oil Sands?
Kearl is located 70 km north of Fort McMurray. It is a joint project between Imperial and ExxonMobil Canada. It is one of Canada’s largest open-pit mining operations.

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Where will I stay during training?
If you do not live in Edmonton, you will need to secure housing for the duration of the program. We do have housing options dependent on availability. You are encouraged to have another alternative.

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Where will I stay if I get hired by Imperial?
If you are hired by Imperial you will be staying in camp while you are working at Kearl Oil Sands. There is no cost for room and board and all meals are provided for you.

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How long before I hear if my application is approved?
All applications received via email will receive a receipt confirmation. Once we have received all of the required documentation, please allow up to 3 weeks for processing. Only those applicants selected to participate in WBF’s assessment will be contacted.

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If I am not accepted into the Imperial program can I apply to other programs?
If you are deemed to not be a suitable candidate for the Imperial program, a recruitment advisor may present the opportunity for you to apply to another one of our programs.

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Do I still need to provide a Driver’s Abstract if I live in another province?
Yes, regardless of where you reside, even if it was in two different provinces over the last five (5) years, we will require an abstract for that time period.

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If I live in another province, can I still apply?
Yes, just keep in mind if you are short-listed you must be available for an assessment and interview at our offices travelling at your own expense. Participating in the assessment or interviews are not a guarantee that you will be selected for the program or ultimately by Imperial for employment. For the duration of the training you would be required to live in the Edmonton area at your own expense. We have some rental units available, but you are encouraged to have a backup. If provided an employment opportunity with Imperial you will be expected to commute to either the Edmonton or Calgary International Airports at your own expense. Imperial will transport you to Fort McMurray from one of those two airports.

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