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Megane Guindon, the pride of the trade

Published on : March 28, 2022

Winner at the Hats Off to You! contest and recipient of a scholarship from Talons hauts et Caps d'acier (high heels and steel caps), Megane Guindon, a student at the Centre de Formation Compétences 2000 de Laval, is happy to be making her way in the world of vehicle mechanics.

Megane Guindon, 19, from Sainte-Eustache, has always been interested in carpentry, plumbing, electricity, and mechanics. "Due to some family issues, I live with my maternal grandfather. He has had many occupations throughout his life. He has built about ten houses. He has always repaired everything himself with me helping as his assistant." Between her passion for hockey and school, where she did very well, Megane recalls always wanting to learn and help her grandfather. "He is a bit old-fashioned. He does not think a girl should be interested in making a living doing manual work."

Working on Oneself

After her first year of CEGEP studying electrical engineering, Megane Guindon changed course and decided to take a course on light-duty vehicle mechanics at the CFP Compétences 2000.

After graduating high school, Megane did one year of CEGEP in electrical engineering. "I quickly realized it was not for me," she says. "I was looking for a more structured field, and I was more interested in repairing than building circuits." Always methodic in her approach, Megane sought information on different career paths in vocational training. She narrowed it down to three options, did more research, and opted for a program on light-duty vehicle mechanics . "A manual job, but also a good compromise between my interests and skills," she explains. "I started thinking about the repairs I did with my grandfather, how I enjoyed it. I looked at the school's website, I found the facilities to be very well-equipped, and I enrolled right away."

Obstacles and Solutions

"Educate the parents, as they are often the ones who are the most apprehensive."

At the Compétences 2000 vocational centre, Megane fit in well and successfully completed the 1800 hours of training despite some challenges. "Most of the guys are stronger than me. They are taller and have bigger hands. At 5'5", I have to find a different way to work. One of my teachers, Richard, taught me how to use my entire body instead of just my arms. He is short like me and encouraged me to push myself." With the help of her mentor, Megane fabricated a wooden support to repair tires that were difficult for her to handle. "We can succeed by finding solutions, without feeling excluded or incompetent. Male-dominated trades can appear scary, but in reality, what's really scary is that you are the only woman." What advice does she have to facilitate the integration of girls? "Educate the parents, as they are often the ones who are the most apprehensive."

A Growing Trade

Recipient of several awards, Megane Guindon is completing her DVS and aiming to participate in the 2021 Québec Skills Competition.

Her program of study trains individuals to maintain and repair two-stroke and four-stroke engines on lawn mowers, snowmobiles, snow blowers, chainsaws, garden tractors, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, golf carts, etc. According to Megane, these are devices that most adults own and are only becoming more complex. "We have to specialize in new technologies because the demand will only go up in the upcoming years, and there are not many repairers with the knowledge to perform these fixes. Thanks to my program of study, I am well-prepared for the new challenges, such as electronics and electricity applied to new technologies. Québec has an important reserve of electricity, and the evolution of batteries has been incredible. I believe using our electric dams would be a sustainable and eco-responsible solution that would benefit everyone."

Thanks to my program of study, I am well-prepared for the new challenges, such as electronics and electricity applied to new technologies. Québec has an important reserve of electricity, and the evolution of batteries has been incredible. I believe using our electric dams would be a sustainable and eco-responsible solution that would benefit everyone.

Megane Guindon, Student, Mécanique de véhicules de loisir et d'équipement léger

First Foray into the Working World

According to Megane Guidon, yesterday's challenges will not necessarily be the obstacles of tomorrow; electronics and electricity applied to new technologies are an example and a new path to explore.

Last year, Megane worked in a rental shop. Her boss was reluctant to hire her, and admitted it was because she was a female. "Employers are afraid to hire women in physically demanding fields. I want to prove them wrong and show that being a woman is not a handicap, but a strength, with qualities such as reliability, meticulousness and politeness. I took some vacation time last summer, and when I came back, all the employees came to tell me that the quality of service had gone down while I was away."

Mechanic and Natural Caregiver

The female workforce represents 17% of the entire automotive service industry. Only 1.4% of small engine and equipment mechanics are women.

The female workforce represents 17% of the entire automotive service industry. Only 1.4% of small engine and equipment mechanics are women. The Comité sectoriel de main-d'oeuvre des services automobiles (CSMO-Auto) conducted a study examining the needs and obstacles women and employers face in relation to working conditions and work-life balance. Among the many findings, it shows that twice as many women are caregivers compared to men, which is the case for Megane, who supports her grandfather suffering from ataxia. Since childhood, she has split her time between school and work, contributing to household expenses. Megane's grandfather struggles with old age and health issues, but he remains her main source of motivation when overcoming hardships. "I want to prove to him that a girl can be a mechanic. A girl can have the desire to work with her hands in a dirty garage. I especially want to prove that I am worthy of his precious tools and that his granddaughter can follow in his footsteps. I don't intend on building a house, but I hope to spend a good part of my life in a garage. As he did."

Hats Off to You!

Megane Guindon was a winner at the Hats Off to You! contest at the National Assembly in the Transportation category, and was awarded a $2,000 cash prize. She was also the recipient of a scholarship from Talons hauts et Caps d’acier (high heels and steel caps), an initiative from the Table de concertation lavalloise pour l’emploi des femmes dans les métiers non traditionnels that aims to increase the number of women in male-dominate programs offered by the Centre de services scolaire de Laval and Collège Montmorency. "This proves to me that other girls are going through the same thing as me. I am proud of this recognition," she says.

Prospects

Due to the increasing popularity of recreational and service vehicles, job prospects for mechanics specialized in small vehicles are excellent. Opportunities for advancement are also promising. This summer, Megane was set to start her first job working at a golf club. Due to the pandemic, as she did not want to endanger her grandfather, who is 76, she had to give it up. If all goes well, she is set to make her professional debut next year. She also hopes to teach her trade in the future and is already preparing. Until then, she will finish her DVS and continue the skills adventure in spring 2021.

Given my size, I sometimes use special tools. There could be aide programs or monetary resources for obtaining certain special items. Having a workspace adapted to the person can help with their productivity. They will be more comfortable and will work better. For example, having a lower workbench if the person is shorter than the previous employee. Or gloves that fit their hands properly. These are the little things that affect productivity and morale.

Megane Guindon, Student, Mécanique de véhicules de loisir et d'équipement léger