Removing the barriers women encounter in pursuing careers in which they’re traditionally under-represented is crucial if we want to see a significant increase in the percentage of women entering these industries.
In 2018, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) hosted the first-ever national conference dedicated to female participation in the skilled trades, followed by the second Supporting Women in Trades conference, which was held in Vancouver the following year. Based on these events and along with extensive consultations with stakeholders over the last two years, CAF-FCA announced a task force of its members from across the country to oversee the development of a National Strategy for Women in Trades.
The task force, comprised of 60 representatives from CAF-FCA member organizations, is being led by co-chairs Lisa Stevens (BC Construction Association), Melissa Young (NETCO), Nour Hachem-Fawaz (Build a Dream), and Joann Greeley (Office to Advance Women Apprentices) to inform specific strategy content and establish a national target to increase participation and retention of females in skilled trade careers. “We already know what the barriers are. Insights from this task force, along with 20 years of CAF-FCA national research in the area, will provide a clear direction on how to create sustainable change,” says France Daviault, Executive Director of CAF-FCA. “The entire skilled trade community is now working together through the CAF-FCA platform and identifying targets for increasing female participation. What gets measured gets done.”
The National Strategy for Supporting Women in Trades will be introduced at the National Apprenticeship Conference on May 24 to 26, 2020 in Calgary, AB. With the country needing thousands of new trade professionals to fill the existing skilled trades gap, an informative strategy that addresses policy and structure is imperative.
Chief Strategy Officer, BC Construction
Mediaplanet: What is the role of the task force?
Lisa Stevens: The task force has one goal — to build a national strategy that will truly change the game for Canadian women who want to work in the skilled trades. The CAF-FCA members have a monumental amount of experience and knowledge, but even more impressive than what they know is how engaged and passionate they are about getting it done. This is a commitment to putting Canadian industry firmly on the road to diversity — no more excuses, just action.
Executive Director, NETCO
Mediaplanet: Why did you want to participate and lead this task force?
Melissa Young: As a woman who has been in the industry for nearly 30 years, I believe it’s my responsibility to give back. There have been some very significant changes over the years for women in non-traditional skilled trades, but there’s still a significant amount of work to be done. The stigma attached to having women working in the skilled trades is still there, but I believe that we’ll continue to see it disappear over time. In order for it to do so, we must continue to push for strategic changes that will impact policy and reflect positive outcomes for women.
Executive Director, CAF-FCA
Mediaplanet: What is the timeline and next steps?
France Daviault: The task force has an aggressive timeline to develop a strategy before the CAF-FCA May conference. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg — the bulk of the work will be done over the next three to five years as stakeholders come together to implement the strategies. The key to sustainable change is to set targets and measure progress, and this strategy will do just that. This is what makes this project exciting and long-term. There are 60 stakeholders at the table already agreeing to do whatever it takes to make positive change. That in itself is inspiring.
Engagement and Events Coordinator, Office to Advance Women Apprentices
Mediaplanet: How will this project impact women working in the trades?
Joann Greeley: It’s my hope that this task force will influence the federal and provincial governments by having policy written around targets for women’s participation in skilled building trades. If we can get industry to adopt this strategy, we’ll be opening doors for women working in skilled trades. Most women face discrimination in trying to secure employment. This strategy should mitigate this discrimination. Having industry buy into structural changes supported by policies will make all worksites better places for all workers.
President and Founder, Build a Dream
Mediaplanet:What’s your hope for this task force?
Nour Hachem-Fawaz: My hope for this task force is to launch a national strategy reflective of a collective voice to present diverse experts who have worked tirelessly for years to move the needle for women in the skilled trades. CAF-FCA brings together all necessary stakeholders including industry, education, community, and women in the trades, believing that each lens brings great value to the change we need to implement at all levels for all women to succeed. I hope we’ll energize a nationwide commitment to advancing women in the industry by prioritizing a united strategy that celebrates progress while addressing the gaps that continue to exist.