To prosper long term and fill looming employment gaps, recruitment in skilled trades sectors must diversify and adapt to societal change.
It’s clear that Canada’s demographics are shifting in every regard. For the first time in history, the country’s workforce statistics are about to drastically alter, with up to four generations of workers employed at once.1
In the skilled trades, about 40 percent of its employees will be over the age of 55 within the next decade.2 Once these baby boomers retire, the sector will experience an unprecedented worker shortage. With their futures at stake, many skilled trades companies are already planning ahead.
The obvious solution to filling these labour gaps is to make the skilled trades sector more inclusive – to diversify a traditionally male-dominated workforce. In particular, women have struggled to build successful careers in this industry due to a serious lack of business infrastructure and support that considers them.
The Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology (CCWESTT) is a national organization pioneering the way businesses, individuals, and industries support women in science, engineering, trades, and technology (SETT). “We’re leaders in building alliances that facilitate a diverse workforce, bringing communities together,” explains Bonnie Douglas, CCWESTT’s Project Manager.
CCWESTT’s recent national initiative, We Are Trades, provides employers with actionable steps and tools to establish safe and inclusive workplaces for women. “The program is a continuous cycle with three phases,” says Bonnie. “Once committed, a business must reflect and analyze the ways in which they need to improve, then make gradual changes.”
The process requires employers to look at their workplace tools, equipment, faculties, and overall culture and implement new practices to make women feel supported. Built off data gathered from women working in the skilled trades, We Are Trades isn’t only geared towards improving the hiring process, but to increase a company’s retention rates.
United and accessible
We Are Trades has been a huge success for many companies including Irving Shipbuilding, as their Manager of Industrial Participation, Audra McCreesh, would attest to. “Part of growing our trades workforce is bringing in diverse groups to our team. To do that, we need to have a more inclusive work culture. We joined these sessions to further learn how we could change our workplace dynamics.”
Throughout the program, employers learn that to keep workers happy in their jobs, they need to feel safe. “It’s one thing to initiate recruitment, it’s another to ensure that you’ve got the workplace adapted to welcoming women to the job,” explains Mary Keith, Irving’s Vice President of Communications.
This includes providing proper personal protective gear, suitable changerooms and washrooms, and having harassment policies and payment processes in place for anyone, regardless of gender or race. “You have a better sense of morale and teamwork. That improves the entire business,” Mary adds.
Ready for success
“To have true innovation and improvement, we need diversity of thought. The only way to gain that is to have a psychologically and physically safe environment,” Audra explains.
If you’re a skilled trades employer sign up to learn more about how We Are Trades can help create a safe and inclusive workplace for women. If you’re a skilled trades employee, especially a tradeswoman, check out our ambassador tool kit for ways you can show support for safe and inclusive trades workplaces for women.
- Weikle, Brandie. (2019). With 4 generations in the workplace, employers expected to juggle vastly different expectations.CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/multi-generation-work-place-1.4980659
- Fields, Andrew, Uppal, Sharanjit and LaRochelle-Côté, Sébastien. (2017). Insights on Canadian Society: The impact of aging on labour market participation rates.Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2017001/article/14826-eng.htm