YOU'RE STILL READING! That’s great!
There are some great organizations and programs out there to help introduce you to the various trades (so you can decide which is right for you), provide or direct you to training, and some even work with employers to get you the experience you need, and in some cases, a permanent full-time job.
- The BC Centre for Women in the Trades (BCCWITT) aims to increase the retention and advancement of women in the trades through targeted supports and programs, including outreach and mentoring.
- The British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Trades Discovery for Women program allows women to gain hands-on experience in about 20 different trades and prepares them to successfully enter and complete trades/technical training or to seek apprenticeship.
- The Industry Training Authority’s (ITA) Women in Trades Training (WITT) program provides training, financial assistance and support for eligible women living in British Columbia who are thinking about a career in the skilled trades, but are unemployed or employed and low-skilled. It offers introductory trades training that allows you to experience a variety of trades, helps you get job ready, and works with employers to sponsor women for apprenticeship placement.
- emPOWER – Women in Trades is a Calgary, Alberta program that provides introductory skills training to unemployed or marginally employed women who would like to enter into the skilled trades sector. The program, in partnership with SAIT, introduces participants to a number of trades with the goal of helping them to find stable employment in the trade of their choice.
- Women Building Futures (WBF) is a leader in trades training for women, with extensive experience in recruiting women into the heavy industrial workforce in Alberta. Its employment placement rate is 90%! The great thing about this program is that you get to try a variety of trades before deciding which one you’d like to pursue further.
- The Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) team at Saskatchewan Polytechnic provides programming and pre-employment information to those who are interested in accessing non-traditional careers. There are also multiple supports available for those who are currently working or studying in a trade or technology in Saskatchewan.
- Created by the Central Ontario Building Trades, the Hammer Heads Program is a skill and employment-based training program that offers apprenticeship career opportunities to Indigenous youth and youth in under-resourced neighbourhoods in Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area. As a community-based initiative, Hammer Heads takes pride in giving back to their communities by delivering meaningful careers, not temporary jobs, focusing on 100% success and retention strategies.
- Women's Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor Inc. (WEST) offers training opportunities for women in Windsor-Essex County, Ontario, to prepare them for employment. Their programs include those geared to second careers, apprenticeship and skilled trades.
- The Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) and Information Technology Training program at Ontario’s The Centre for Skills Development & Training provides eligible women with the tools and training to launch their career in the residential construction industry.
- Quebec's Les Elles de la Construction promotes the role of women in the field of construction, at all levels: women entrepreneurs, women as project managers and tradeswomen. They also provide training to members as needed.
- The Office to Advance Women Apprentices (OAWA) partners with employers, unions, government and training institutions in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan to help secure employment opportunities for women in the skilled trades. It has helped hundreds of women obtain jobs in the trades.
- New Boots is a provincial network in New Brunswick for tradeswomen, run by tradeswomen. They aim to promote, support, and mentor tradeswomen and their employer in non-traditional skilled trades. Whether you’re thinking about pursuing a skilled trade, looking to meet other tradeswomen, need help finding employment, or simply seeking a mentor, they have you covered. They will also help you navigate your apprenticeship and explore career advancement options that suit you.
- Women Unlimited – a program of Nova Scotia’s Women’s Economic Equality Society – helps women to explore, prepare for, obtain and maintain employment in the skilled trades.
- The Women’s Network PEI supports unemployed and underemployed women to explore, prepare for, obtain and maintain employment in the trades and industrial technology fields. Their Trade HERizons project aims to increase the number of women in non-traditional trades and technology occupations on Prince Edward Island.
- Women in Resource Development Corporation (WRDC) helps women in Newfoundland and Labrador get started in the construction trades. WRDC and its Educational Resource Center (ERC) offer a variety of programs and services including career exploration programs for girls and young women and career counselling and employment assistance services for women.
Check out your local construction association, colleges/universities and unions in your area for other programs geared to women.
You could also check out the following organizations:
- Build Together – a national Canadian Building Trades Union program that promotes, supports and mentors women in the skilled construction trades.
- Canadian Construction Women and the Canadian Association of Women in Construction – boasting diverse memberships – from skilled trades, to project managers, general contractors, estimators, lawyers, engineers and architects – both offer mentorship opportunities to advise, guide and assist women on industry challenges they may face
- Manitoba Women in Construction aims to build the long-term success of women in Manitoba’s construction industry by providing a resource for support, mentoring, networking, community involvement and education. They host a variety of social events and professional development seminars a year, including their signature mentoring event, Building HER Story.
Also check out our Pinterest board, "Women in Construction," for more information and resources.
– Jamie McMillan, Ironworker
Programs that enable girls to explore the trades
According to a report by BuildForce Canada (formerly the Construction Sector Council), several studies have reported that girls are systematically streamed away from science, technology and trades careers by the very educational pathways intended to expose them to opportunities in these sectors.
A number of programs are responding to this stereotyping by helping girls to expand their thinking and explore careers in the areas of skilled trades.
- Girls Exploring Trades and Technology (Saskatchewan, Manitoba) introduces girls in grades 6, 7 and 8 to possible future careers while attending a fun and engaging week-long summer camp that demystifies tools and technology, and builds self-awareness and confidence. The girls learn they have options to select occupations according to their own talents, skills and abilities, and are encouraged to think about career options that go beyond the societal norm so they see themselves as a person first, and not a gender.
- Skills Ontario Summer Camp – a week-long day program for kids entering grades 7 and 8 – allows students to explore careers in skilled trades through interactive games, industry tours and entrepreneurship programs. There are multiple camp locations across Ontario, including specialized camps for girls only.
- Ontario-based Build a Dream works closely with industry and education to empower young women (grades 7 to 12) to pursue careers in fields where women are currently underrepresented (like skilled trades). Specialized programming is delivered through Career Discovery Expos, Hands-on Camps & Workshops, highlighting Dream Maker Professional Females, and delivering Keynotes, Consulting & Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM).
The Techsploration program in Nova Scotia empowers young women in grades 9 through 12 to explore careers in science, trades and technology. Through more than 20 participating schools, students have the opportunity to meet role models and partake in interactive presentations and workshops.
GUSTO! is a free workshop for high school girls across Newfoundland and Labrador who are interested in gaining hands-on experience in the carpentry and electrical trades.
- Techsploration: Newfoundland and Labrador providea young women with opportunities to explore trades, technical and technology-related occupations, while creating an awareness about the critical role of work in their lives. It also helps them understand the significance of high school math and science to their future careers.
Also check out our Pinterest board, "Kids/Youth Programs/Summer Camps," for more information and resources.
– Devin West, coordinator, Girls Exploring Trades and Technology camps