The Importance of Women in Trades
As a young girl growing up in the 1970s, it never occurred to many girls to pursue a trade for a profession. The most common professions at the time were secretarial, teaching, and nursing. Fifty years later, while more women are choosing trades, women still only make up 4% of employees. Let us discuss The Importance of Women in Trades.
Why Choose Trades?
Career choices include carpentry, plumbing, aerospace, automotive, welding, and horticulture.
A great paycheck is one reason to learn a trade. The average salary is about twice that of a retail job!
Skilled trades people are in high demand as there is a shortage of skilled workers, so there are many opportunities. By 2025, there are expected to be nearly a million job openings in BC, many which will require skilled tradespeople.
Tradeswomen report high levels of job satisfaction.
Barriers to Employment
As trades are still male dominated. Women have been subject rejection due to their gender. Unfortunately, trades have been resistant to gender equity, and in some industries there are pay disparities.
How to Get into Trades
Penelope Twerlow, is the Chair of Women In Power, the Queensland Electrical Safety Education Committee, as well as the CEO of Energy Skills Queensland offers some good advice,
First, find a mentor. A woman mentor who has navigated the male dominated industries can offer valuable advice. She will know what approaches will work. A male role model is also helpful in understanding strategies to achieve success. A good mentor can provide career advice, and help the mentee reach their career goals.
An apprenticeship program is also a good way to gain skills and knowledge. What is an apprenticeship? It’s a combination of on the job and classroom training. Apprenticeships take about 4 years to complete. Once this is completed, you receive a trade credential or ticket. ITA and WorkBC have an online Apprentice Job Match tool connecting apprentices as well as potential employers.
She also suggests finding your unique “edge” which sets you apart along with cultivating this.
Did you know that there are over 100 trades programs in BC? Programs are managed by the Industry Training Authority.
These include Aircraft Maintenance Technician, Appliance Service Technician, Automotive Service Technician, Boilermaker, Industrial Electrician, Gasfitter, Insulator, Oil eat System Technician, Plumber. Welder, and Refrigeration as well as Air Conditioning Mechanic.
One program specifically for women is provided by the BC Centre for Women in the Trades (BCWITT). This program provides skills training, employment opportunities and networking. Services include coaching, skills training with associated partners, job placement, and financial support. Their website is https://bccwitt.ca/whatwedo/careers/ .
The ITA Women in Trades Training Initiative plans to match women’s skills to needs in the BC workplace.
Camosun College/Vancouver Island University offers an introductory 12 week trades program. The program includes life skills, essential skills, academic assessment, and industry certifications. There is also support with job coach and apprenticeships. For more information, check the website www.camosun.ca/witt.
Excel Career College offers a 15 week, five stage training program. This includes pre-employment and essential skills training, and learning 5 trades. Students complete a work placement. Their website is www.excelcareercollege.com/ .
North Island College provides a 14 week Trades sampler program. Participants explore a variety of constructional trades and gain foundational skills training including work experience. Okanagan College also offers a 12 week Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program at their 4 campuses. Thompson Rivers University offers an introductory as well as a 3 month programs in mechanical along with construction trades.
ITA has a wealth of information on Apprenticeship Programs. They sponsor community service providers, training providers and indigenous communities throughout BC to deliver trades training and employment programs.
Other organizations include Build Together as well as the BC Tradeswomen Society.
It is great to see that these organizations bring visibility to the importance of women in trades.
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