Executive Director, CAF-FCA
Engagement & Events Coordinator, Office to Advance Women Apprentices
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum/Forum canadien sur l’apprentissage (CAF-FCA)’s National Strategy for Supporting Women in the Trades and CHAMPIONS4CHANGE campaign are forging an equitable future for women in the skilled trades.
A vibrant and sustainable Canadian apprenticeship system is dependent on employer engagement. Without employers providing apprenticeship training opportunities at all levels, many careers that make up our skilled trades workforce are in jeopardy.
Research shows that aspiring apprentices struggle to find employment. Employers who understand their crucial role in apprenticeships commit to hiring and training, and recognize the unique benefits of providing these opportunities to individuals traditionally underrepresented in the skilled trades. This fall, CAF-FCA released its first-ever National Strategy for Supporting Women in the Trades and launched the #CHAMPIONS4CHANGE pledge campaign to highlight skilled trades employers who hire and train women.
Action from local to national levels
Joann Greeley is a Red Seal electrician, small business owner, and the Engagement and Events Coordinator for the Office to Advance Women Apprentices. She led the stakeholder engagement committee for the development of CAF-FCA’s National Strategy and was recently elected to its Board of Directors. “I was so impressed that this organization was willing to tackle the challenge of workplace equity at a national level,” she says.
CAF-FCA consulted women working in skilled trades jobs along with other important stakeholders from educator, employer, equity-seeking, and labour groups in developing the strategy and employer pledge.
Promoting equity through transparency
CHAMPIONS4CHANGE employers have stepped up by publicly pledging to hire, train, and retain tradeswomen and to create equitable and inclusive work environments, as well as to publish their numbers yearly. Their commitment will help CAF-FCA achieve the campaign goal of 15 percent representation of women in the skilled trades by 2030.
These employers are leading the way and CAF-FCA celebrates them upon the launch of its national campaign. “When employers take the CHAMPIONS4CHANGE pledge to ensure equitable and safe workplaces, they show other companies that there’s a better way,” says Greeley. “Trades workers are in high demand and women are ready to fill those jobs if the culture of workplaces is welcoming. Companies need to make this a priority if they want to hire and retain workers in the future. A respectful workplace is a workers’ issue, not just a women’s issue.”
France Daviault, CAF-FCA’s Executive Director, believes that #CHAMPIONS4CHANGE participants are truly change-makers and leaders for sharing the percentage of women in their workforce. “They understand that numbers matter and aren’t afraid to be part of the solution. We must move beyond rhetoric as the representation of women in trades hasn’t increased in years. Employers who take the pledge are willing to be accountable for moving the needle and seeing those numbers increase,” she says.