A new app aims to help connect women with available opportunities in the skilled trades.
“We needed a way of getting in touch with our graduates faster, more efficiently and to stay in touch with them,” YWCA Toronto’s employment and training manager Dolores Montavez-Ruz told the Daily Commercial News.
“Sometimes the opportunities come and they have only a few hours shelf life. An employer may call and may say, ‘I’m looking for painters, do you have any available?’ For us to respond to this means going to our database of painters to see who is working, who is not working, sending an email to everybody and then they respond to us not the employer. We needed to do something that will be more efficient, will be easier and that will be more engaging.”
The Women in Trades and Technology app makes it easier for women to gain entry into the skilled trades and technology sectors and promotes gender equity.
Available in the iOS App Store and Google Play, the tool was designed and developed by graduates from the YWCA Toronto’s iOS and Android Mobile Application Developer program. The developers were Rania Arbash, lead developer, class of 2016-17; Vidhya Yogenderan, class of 2017-18; and Jun Dang, class of 2018-19.
“Our graduates wanted to do it,” said Montavez-Ruz. “Some of them hadn’t found jobs yet and they had the skills and they really wanted the experience.”
YWCA Toronto offers women a chance to build a future in non-traditional occupations by partnering with colleges, unions, employers and business leaders to provide gender-based and inclusive training programs for women interested in entering the construction, landscaping and technology industries, indicates the organization’s website.
App users can access news, job postings, event announcements and featured stories on women in the sectors.
“This is really the beating heart of this project, is how do we tell women that there are these possibilities for them in the skilled trades and technology in a quick and easy way to see it and to access or reach other women who have already graduated and have transformed their lives,” said Montavez-Ruz. “This is a tool which has very specific intentions, which is to bring women to know that there is a whole world of possibilities for careers and jobs in the skilled trades that they may not have considered and how to get in touch with it, how to really find information.”
The app’s development was made possible with funding from the Office of Women’s Issues, part the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
“The app is very simple. It just has basic features right now, although I am hopeful we are going to get more funding to make it a little bit more interactive and add new features,” Montavez-Ruz said. “We are very aware that if it performs the function and the task that we designed it for then funding will be available to increase features and make it more interactive for users, add some accessibility capabilities.
“We have six months to really try to build this community. If it plays the role that it was intended for it will be a great tool for people to have.”
The app is public and anybody can download it. Community partners are welcome to post job, training and networking opportunities that are offered free of charge. Each posting has a link to the source of the information and a brief snippet about what it is.
“Right now my team sources the information and we feed the app, but my hope is that eventually when the app grows and people realize the capacity that it has to connect individuals to the skilled trades and the IT sector, we will not have to go looking for the information, the information is going to come to us,” said Montavez-Ruz, adding she hopes that more funding will become available in the spring.
“My job for the next six months, other than maintaining the app, making it relevant and current and important for people to actually download it and look at the news, is to promote it to let people know it exists, that’s its open to users and its open to members who want to post anything that is related or pertinent to the skilled trades and technology sector,” she said.
For more information, email DMontavez@ywcatoronto.org.
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