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Looking beyond traditional sources for workers

Don Procter
Looking beyond traditional sources for workers

VAUGHAN, ONT. —Over the next decade BuildForce Canada projects that more than 330,000 tradespeople will be required in the core construction trades in Canada.

But because the labour force is only expected to increase by three per cent, the construction industry will be left scrambling for workers, says Cristina Selva, executive director of the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades (CCAT).

That is why, she says, it is essential today to be "looking beyond traditional sources for workers. Recruiting, training and retaining women will be essential to our long-term economic viability."

Canada has a poor record of increasing female representation in the construction trades, with only about 3.6 per cent in total today.

Selva says mentorship is essential to recruiting, educating and retaining good people in any field — men or women.

"This mentorship program we started (at CCAT) is designed to help support young female apprentices at the very beginning of their careers," she says.

"We applaud the International United Brotherhood of Carpenters’ (UBC) goal to achieve 20-per-cent female representation by 2020.

"The mentorship program is one small step towards that goal."

Kathryn Trickett, the CCAT’s lead mentor at the carpenters training centre in Vaughan, Ont., says a generational shift is happening in the industry and many of the younger men entering the field are more accepting of women workers than older generations were.

She believes the number of women in the trades will rise over the next five years because of changing demographics and increased emphasis by governments to attract more women to the industry.

The UBC has developed a training program called Transformational Leadership which teaches third-year and journeyperson carpenters methods for breaking down generational and cultural differences in the industry.

"The objective is to put every journeyman in the brotherhood (Canada and the U.S.) through the course," Trickett says.

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