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CRAFT program expands to encourage women in the construction trades

Angela Gismondi
CRAFT program expands to encourage women in the construction trades

For the first time, the Creating Real Apprenticeships for Toronto (CRAFT) program is being geared towards women who are interested in pursuing an apprenticeship in the construction trades.

The 14-week pre-apprenticeship program is available to young women aged 19 to 29 who live in Toronto Community Housing Communities (TCHC) as well as other women in vulnerable situations.

The program will run from Aug. 27 to Nov. 30 and offers four weeks of paid in-class training, a 10-week job placement, a child care subsidy, travel subsidy, basic hand tools and safety equipment and mentoring through Sisters in the Trades. Twelve spots are available.

“It’s the expansion or the next step of our CRAFT program and this is the first time we’re offering it just for women,” said Cristina Selva, executive director of the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades (CCAT).

The CRAFT program has been running for three years and the latest one, open to women and men, started June 18.

“We were approached by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) to run a women-specific CRAFT program targeted at residents of Toronto Community Housing Communities, women that would be interested in possibly starting construction careers.

“They are paid throughout the 14 weeks, including the training and preparatory weeks. This is one of the unique features of the program.”

The program is organized by the CCAT and sponsored by a number of partners including The Daniels Corporation, Heights Development, Building Opportunities for Life Today (BOLT), the YMCA of Greater Toronto, TCHC, MAESD and Sisters in the Trades. Construction Connections is providing support for the program.


The few women that we have in the trades have enjoyed tremendous success

— Cristina Selva

College of Carpenters and Allied Trades


The first four weeks of training, which will take place at the CCAT in Woodbridge, Ont., will provide a combination of life and employment skills preparation, some academic upgrading, primarily in math, and obtaining basic health and safety training and certificates which are required to work on construction sites. Some fundamentals in construction tools will also be taught, explained Selva.

For the remaining 10 weeks, Daniels will put participants on a work placement with one of their subcontractors. Depending on what is available at the time, the company will try and match the pre-apprentices to their interests such as carpentry, drywall, electrical or plumbing, explained Selva.

“At the end of their placements they will be offered opportunities through us if they would like to continue in a carpentry or floor covering apprenticeship. If they are interested in another trade they would pursue other opportunities,” she said.

During the training and preparatory weeks, the wages are covered by The Daniels Corporation, BOLT, YMCA of Greater Toronto and TCHC, Selva noted.

For the remaining 10-week placement, their wages, which amount to $14 an hour, are covered by the contractor or the subcontractor that has hired them. The MAESD will subsidize the contractor wages by $4 per hour, providing an incentive for the contractor to hire program participants, Selva added.

In addition, the MAESD also provides a subsidy for travel and child care, personal protective equipment and a basic introductory tool set.

The final information session for the program will be held June 26 at 6 p.m. at 10 Old Meadow Lane in Lawrence Heights in Toronto.

“The program is geared towards any women who are interested in exploring, starting or pursuing a career in construction,” said Selva. “For most of the apprenticeship programs, academically they have to have a minimum of Grade 10, 16 credits, but the program itself would provide some academic upgrading as well.”

The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for women to explore careers in the trades, which has been a focus of government and labour organizations in an attempt to help reduce the skilled trades shortage.

“We’re still woefully underrepresented in terms of women in the construction sector, particularly at the trade level,” Selva pointed out.

“It’s still less than three per cent across the board and there is no reason for that because the construction trades offer incredible opportunities for fulfilling lucrative careers that should not be exclusive to men.

“The few women that we have in the trades have enjoyed tremendous success and there is no reason why more women cannot be benefiting from all of those advantages that the trades offer, from financial security to independence to the ability to advance in their careers and pursue career paths in construction that might lead them to a number of different opportunities.”

Those interested can register by calling 905-652-5507, emailing or attending the information session with photo ID, a SIN card and a high school diploma or transcript with a minimum of 16 completed credits.

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