Fleet Attends the 2024 Women in Trades Career Fair


By Salma Florencio, Fleet Operations Clerk, and Rachel Darken, Fleet Chief of Staff 

Earlier this month, the City celebrated Women in Construction Week by highlighting some of the incredible employees in various departments across the City. First introduced in 1998, Women in Construction Week is celebrated during the first full week of March. This weeklong celebration recognizes and promotes the role of women in the male-dominated construction industry.

The automotive industry is in a similar state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women represented only 16% of automotive and heavy vehicle technicians, mechanics, and repairers nationwide in 2023. Fleet is actively pursuing strategies to diversify our workforce, including creating opportunities for local students to explore a career in the automotive industry. In celebration of Women in Construction Week, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County and WRTP | BIG STEP hosted a Women in Trades Career Fair at the McKenzie Regional Workforce Center in Fitchburg. Two members of the Fleet team, Operations Clerk Salma Florencio and Fleet Technician Katie Cutler attended on behalf of the Fleet team.

The fair was a great opportunity for the youth of Dane County, as well as members of the public, to learn and hear from women in the skilled trades and construction industry, and how their company or organization is working to eliminate challenges and create a successful road for women in the trades. The event was informative and interactive – with a lot of interactive activities available for the participants. Even members of the Fleet team were able to get in on the fun with a local sheet metal joint apprenticeship training committee helping participants construct their own personal-sized toolbox made of sheet metal. 

While representatives from the City of Madison Human Resources team shared information about a variety of career opportunities, the Fleet team led a hands-on activity to showcase automotive mechanical work. Under their guidance, participants tried their hand at using an impact gun to remove the wheel from a now-retired police squad car. 

In addition to the hands-on activity, members of the Fleet team also had the opportunity to walk around the fair and visit other tables to connect and listen to the experiences of other women in the trades. 

Fleet Technician Katie especially enjoyed talking with others and learning that there is a shared experience among workers in the skilled trades:

“The biggest takeaway I got from talking with every single other group that was: careers in these trades should be viewed as a lifetime, first career, not a fallback career. A lot of parents want what is best for their children and the means some type of four-year degree. However, there is a huge demand right now for people who will follow a trade school or apprenticeship type path.” 

Events like these provide a great chance for us to speak to younger students about the work we do for the city and the opportunities we have for them – most notably our apprenticeship program. Since 2018, we have worked with high schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District, as well as students from Madison College, to offer a hands-on apprenticeship program. This program is something we are very proud of, as we can provide real, hands-on experience in the mechanical world to those interested in a career in the trades. We hope to continue the success of our apprenticeship and attend events like these to continue to build a better pathway for women in the automotive industry.   

This content is free for use with credit to City of Madison Fleet.

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