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You can only be what you can see’: CAF offers leadership training for women

Angela Gismondi
You can only be what you can see’: CAF offers leadership training for women

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) will launch a new program in June to provide leadership training and development opportunities for women in the trades.

The National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades pilot will be officially unveiled at the Supporting Women in Trades Conference taking place June 2 and 3, 2022, in St. John’s, N.L.

“The purpose of this program is really to provide additional leadership training and development opportunities for women that are already working in the trades,” France Daviault, executive director of CAF told the Daily Commercial News. “One of the things that we noticed, there is a gap in where women have opportunities to grow and advance within the sector they are in.

“We’re going to start taking applications and our goal is to get the first pilot cohort up and running in September 2022,” Daviault added. “We want to start it small, so we think we’re going to have between 13 and 15 participants.”

Over the years, the CAF has done a lot of research around recruitment and retention of women in the skilled trades. Through consultations, they ascertained is there is a need for a program for women that have been already working as an apprentice or are in their last year of apprenticeship or are working as a journeyperson, Daviault said.

One of the many barriers facing women is the lack of women in leadership positions.

“You can only be what you can see,” Daviault said. “If we are trying to target young girls to look at the skilled trades and be interested in careers they need to see women who are doing well that are in leadership positions.”

Developed in partnership with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices, the program will be available to all tradeswomen including Indigenous people, LGBTQ2S+ individuals, immigrants, people with disabilities and those from racialized groups. The program is open to all women and those who identify or have lived experience as women or are non-binary individuals.

“If we want to retain women working in the trades, we want to make sure the industry provides them with an opportunity to grow,” explained Daviault. “If women see themselves in leadership positions in an industry where they are underrepresented that will affect change. We’re hoping this program is going to give women the tools to become those leaders.”

In the program, which will be offered at no cost to tradeswomen and will be led by subject matter experts, participants will learn effective leadership strategies.

“This program it talks about effective communication and conflict resolution. So anyone that is in a workplace, especially women that are working in workplaces that are sometimes aren’t that friendly for women, this may be an opportunity to learn how to deal with that, how to advocate for yourself and others,” said Daviault.

Online training and skills development will be in the areas of conflict resolution, being a good mentor, principles of leadership and supervision and management 101.

CAF recently finished the participant guide which outlines the requirements and the course outlines for each of the modules.

“You have a certain amount of hours as a participant to finish the module. . . but each module will have a two hour virtual meeting with all of the participants and a facilitator to go through what they’ve learned,” Daviault explained. “What we’re working on right now is to have a mentor for each module, a woman who is working in the trade, that’s well versed on the particular discipline, whether it’s communication or supervision.”

CAF is looking for women to be nominated to join the program.

“When women apply they can be nominated by an employer, a union training centre, they can self-nominate as well, but we really want references from employers that say ‘this individual is really expressing a desire for management or for being a supervisor on the jobsite or at the union. We really want to support this person to achieve their goals,’ ” she pointed out.

The idea for the program was developed a while ago and CAF has been consulting with stakeholders in the industry.

“The last thing you want is to create something that no one is going to see as value,” she said. “We already we have stakeholders that are calling and emailing us to see when they can put their participants on a list.”

In conjunction with the program, CAF is planning to develop a national speakers bureau for women in the trades.

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