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National task force focuses on best practices for women in the trades

Angela Gismondi
National task force focuses on best practices for women in the trades

A task force of Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) members has been created to oversee the development of a National Strategy for Women in the Trades.

The task force, which met for the first time Sept. 9, will develop the strategy based on consultations with stakeholders and best practices gathered over the past two years.

“We put out a call for participation to the task force about two months ago and it’s been quite overwhelming,” said France Daviault, executive director, CAF.

“We’re up to 48 people on this task force and that means 48 different organizations will be represented. It just goes to show you that across the country, people are ready to track change.”

“We want to come up with some tangible action items, some recruitment tactics and best practices across the country within the skilled trades that have been proven to work for two things: recruiting more women into the trades but also retention practices, or safe inclusive workplace practices,” added Daviault.

In the last two years, CAF has held national Supporting Women in the Trades events across the country including the first-ever national conference dedicated to female participation in the skilled trades in 2018. From the event, A Road Map to Supporting Women in Trades was developed.

At the second Supporting Women in Trades held in Vancouver in June, more than 600 delegates gathered to share ideas and discuss how to remove the barriers women encounter pursuing careers in which they are traditionally underrepresented.

The next step was the creation of the task force, comprised of apprentices, tradeswomen, representatives from women’s organizations, labour groups, employers, educators and jurisdictional apprenticeship authorities, which will inform specific strategy content and establish a national target to increase participation and retention of females in skilled trades careers, said Daviault.

“We gathered best practices over two years and what we are going to do in the strategy is identify the key ones and put it in a way that you can implement it or get more information on how to implement it in your own company or in your college,” said Daviault.

“What we are going to ask of these members is to help us identify a way that they can track it internally and report back.”

Four per cent women working in non-traditional trades and that hasn’t moved in 10 to 15 years, Daviault said, adding there are many people interested in improving those numbers.

The Prime Minister’s Office recently established an advisory council to look at the promotion of the skilled trades, Daviault noted.

“That’s fantastic, there needs to be more awareness,” she said.

“At the same time there is a lot of good work that’s being done right now across the country and across the trades to address some of these gaps in labour. Let’s not reinvent the wheel at this point. CAF has been working on promoting the skilled trades for many years and for two years in terms of a national strategy specifically for women… We understand what the barriers are for women and youth entering the trades. Let’s stop talking about the barriers and start doing, start tracking outcomes.”

The National Strategy for Women in Trades is expected to be presented at the National Apprenticeship Conference in Calgary May 24 to 26.


Follow Angela Gismondi on Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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