Jamie McMillan is a Journeyman Ironworker/Boilermaker and founder of KickAss Careers. She became an ironworker in 2002 when women only represented 2% of the workforce across Canada and the United States. She thoroughly understands the stereotypes and struggles that women face in male-dominated occupations, and she is determined to equal the playing field.
When Jamie was young she struggled academically. In high school she did well in shop classes but was not made aware of skilled trades apprenticeship pathways. She had no interest in post-secondary education and dropped out in grade 12. After leaving home she started part time job and struggled to make ends meet. In 2002 with an empty bank account, no investments, pension, or benefits she felt like she was self-destructing and spiraled into a depression. One day she set out to purchase a few groceries when she bumped into an old high school class mate who spoke to her about skilled labour opportunities. That conversation changed everything. Over the next few years Jamie completed an apprenticeship and became extremely passionate about educating others about earn while you learn pathways in building and construction apprenticeship programs.
Engage, Educate and Encourage
Her mission: Engage, Educate and Encourage youth to consider careers in skilled trades and technology through school and community outreach.
She speaks to more than 25,000 students, parents, educators and employers each year across North America, and has gained international notoriety. She has opened doors and minds to the career possibilities in the skilled trades, and shows youth an alternate pathway to rewarding and well-paid careers in the trades. Jamie takes several months off each year from her skilled trades job to promote careers in underrepresented occupations and to encourage youth to consider the vast opportunities skilled labour has to offer. Jamie also volunteers her time with Skills Ontario and the YWCA Equitable Pathways to Technical Fields and Skilled Trades Advisory Committee.
Workplace Equality Awareness Ribbon (WE Ribbon)
Jamie is also the cofounder of the Workplace Equality Awareness Ribbon (WE Ribbon). The WE Ribbon is a campaign employers and employees can to help fundraise and support efforts to create inclusive and respectful work environments for everyone in the workplace regardless of differences.
Over the years Jamie has received the Top 20 Under 40 Award for making an impact in the metal trades, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program Champion Award and District School Board of Niagara Technology Education Partnership Award for her commitment to youth in schools across the province of Ontario and most recently the Hamilton YWCA Women of Distinction Award for being a trailblazer excelling in her field promoting leadership and equal advancement opportunities.