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Women in Trades: Breaking Down The Barriers

Encouraging Women to Pursue Careers in the Trades

Women have long been underrepresented in the trades in Canada, with most tradespeople being male. However, in recent years, there has been a push to encourage more women to pursue careers in the trades and to promote gender diversity in the industry. This has never been more evident than right now and the demand for skilled trades labour to fill the demands in all the provinces and territories.

One reason for the lack of women in the trades has been the persistent stereotype that the trades are a “man’s job.” This stereotype can be intimidating for women considering a career in the trades and can also make it difficult for them to find mentors and support within the industry.

Another barrier for women entering the trades is the lack of information and resources available to them. Many women may not even be aware of the various trades careers that are available to them, or they may not know how to go about getting the necessary training and education.

To help address these issues and encourage more women to pursue careers in the trades, there are several initiatives and organizations in Canada that are working to promote gender diversity in the industry.

Federal Support for Women

One such initiative is the Canadian Council for Women in Engineering, Science, Trades, and Technology (CCWESTT). CCWESTT is a national, not-for-profit organization that aims to increase the participation of women in engineering, science, trades, and technology careers. The organization offers a variety of resources and support for women considering careers in the trades, including information on job opportunities, training programs, and mentorship opportunities.

Another organization working to promote gender diversity in the trades is the Women in Trades Network (WTN). The WTN is a national network of women in the trades that provides support, resources, and networking opportunities for women in the industry. The organization also works to raise awareness of the diverse career opportunities available in the trades and to advocate for the inclusion of more women in the industry.

Provincial Support for Women

There are also several initiatives at the provincial level that are aimed at promoting gender diversity in the trades. For example, in Ontario, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has a program called Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) that provides support and resources for women considering careers in the trades. The program offers information on training programs, financial assistance, and mentorship opportunities.

In British Columbia, there is BC Women in The Trades (BCWITT). BCCWITT operates under the umbrella of the BC Federation of Labour. They work with: People of all genders; unions; training institutions; non-unionized and unionized employers; SkilledTradesBCBC Infrastructure BenefitsBC Building TradesConstruction Labour Relations Association of BCBC Construction Association; provincial, federal and municipal governments; Indigenous organizations; trades associations; workforce development organizations; community groups and individuals across BC.

Women in Trades is a FREE 15-week government-funded program in Alberta through Manpower’s emPOWER initiative that is designed to help women develop the skills required to seek employment in the Trades industry.

In addition to these initiatives, there are also several organizations that provide support and resources specifically for women in the construction trades. One such organization is the Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC), which is a national, not-for-profit organization that supports and promotes the advancement of women in the construction industry. The organization offers networking opportunities, professional development workshops, and mentorship programs for women in the construction trades.

Jobs and Virtual Hiring Events

A new initiative that has caught the attention of employers and across Canada is the virtual career fairs being offered by mytrades.ca, a skilled trades job board that has promoted thousands of job postings for some of Canada’s largest employers including Kal Tire, Enbridge, BC Hydro, Komatsu, Wajax and Interfor just to name a few. The Women in Trades Virtual Career Fair in January and July 2021 showcased over 60 companies and more than 500 women interested in the trades.

Despite these efforts, there is still a long way to go to promote gender diversity in the trades in Canada. Women continue to be underrepresented in the industry, and there is a need for more initiatives and resources to support and encourage women to pursue careers in the trades.

One way to encourage more women to enter the trades is to provide better access to education and training programs. This could involve offering more flexible training options, such as online courses or part-time programs, to make it easier for women to balance their education with other responsibilities. It could also involve providing financial assistance to help cover the costs of training.

Another important step is to address the persistent stereotypes and biases that can deter women from entering the trades. This could involve educating the public about the diverse career opportunities available in the trades and dispelling the myth that the trades are a “man’s job.” It could also involve promoting more female role models in the industry and providing mentorship and support for women entering the trades.

Ultimately, increasing gender diversity in the trades will not only benefit women, but it will also benefit the industry as a whole. A more diverse workforce offers solutions to filling the demand for skilled workers and shortage left by an aging workforce that is now retiring.

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