The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) encourages women to make construction their first career choice.
It’s always a daunting question, “What do I do now?” For women graduating from high school or considering a career change, the skilled trades can take you everywhere — outside the cubicle, across the country, or into your own business. The skilled trades are among the fastest growing fields in Canada, offering plenty of room to advance and make a good salary. Take it from women who’ve chosen this career path. There are more opportunities than ever for women to succeed and lead in the skilled trades.
Women are proud to work in the skilled trades
Member companies of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) employ thousands of skilled trades workers across Canada who build everything from major energy and resource projects to roads and bridges. A growing number of their skilled workers are women. Although they come from different backgrounds and provinces, they all have something in common — they’re extremely proud of what they do.
Adriana Brouwer, a 21-year-old first term plumbing apprentice, works at JMR Electric Ltd., in Exeter, Ontario. She was encouraged by a friend’s grandmother who believed the skilled trades have a lot to offer women.
“She always emphasized how getting in the trades would be an essential under your belt and something you could be proud of,” says Brouwer. “I remember that every day. I think a lot of women would enjoy construction. It makes you feel that you can stand with the rest of them.”
Miranda Van Rooyen started as a summer student at Van Rooyen Earthmoving Ltd. in Woodstock, Ontario. Her dad was a foreman at the company, and encouraged her to “give it a try.” Now into her ninth season in construction, she’s earned her way from driving a packer and rock truck, to becoming the company’s first female bulldozer operator.
“It took me a long time to admit to myself that I actually like it,” says the 24-year-old, who graduated from university with a degree in psychology, and worked in the mental health industry, before realizing how much she missed construction, and working outdoors. “That’s when I decided to stick with it,” says Van Rooyen, who hopped on a bulldozer for the first-time a year ago. “It was a new challenge; it felt more hands-on, and I discovered I like working with my hands.”
The skilled trades offer skills for life
Leah Powell grew up outside Williams Lake, British Columbia. She always enjoyed math, working with her hands, and the thought of graduating without school debt. Powell completed an apprenticeship and worked as a journeyman electrician before working her way up to Assistant Estimating Manager at PTW Energy Services Ltd., where she reviews the scope of work, equipment, labour, and material costs for large-scale projects. As Powell sees it, women who are good with tools, will always be able to fix a flat tire or things around the house. She says the skilled trades offer
practical life skills that give women a sense of empowerment.