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Task force to develop national strategy for bringing more women to trades

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) is creating a task force to develop a National Strategy for Women in Trades.

The strategy will be based on extensive consultations with stakeholders over the last two years.

In 2018, CAF-FCA hosted the first-ever national conference dedicated to female participation in the skilled trades. In 2019, the second Supporting Women in Trades Conference was held in Vancouver. In total, more than 600 delegates gathered at the events to share ideas and engage in a conversation on how to remove the barriers women encounter pursuing careers in which they are traditionally under-represented.


“A Road Map to Supporting Women in Trades” was developed in 2018 from results of the inaugural event, and the subsequent 2019 conference culminated in a CAF-FCA commitment to lead the development of a national strategy.

“Our country is going to need thousands of new trades professionals in the next five years, and the creation of a national strategy to help attract more women to the trades will be critical to meeting labour market and economic needs,” says Shelley Gray, CEO of BC’s Industry Training Authority and a task force participant. “To do this, it’s important to develop workplaces that are welcoming, positive, and inclusive of everyone interested in pursuing an apprenticeship.”

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

“We already know what the barriers are. Insights from this task force, along with twenty years of CAF-FCA national research in the area will provide a clear direction on how to create sustainable change,” says France Daviault, executive director of CAF-FCA. “The entire skilled trades community needs to work together and set targets for increasing female participation – what gets measured gets done.” she continued.

The first meeting of the CAF-FCA Strategy task force is on September 9, 2019.

The National Strategy for Women in Trades will be presented at the National Apprenticeship Conference in Calgary, Alberta on May 24-26, 2020.

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2 Comments » for Task force to develop national strategy for bringing more women to trades
  1. Gord Stewart says:

    Why would you be trying to force an outcome when it is not necessary. Women currently have equal opportunity to enrol in any trade, just as men do. The simple fact is that a majority of women do not want to enrol in skilled trades because of the nature of the jobs. Although this is not a rule, but, in general, women prefer to persue careers that involve ‘people’ and ‘relationships’. Hence the larger number of female nurses. Men, by nature, prefer careers than involve ‘things’ (buildings, maintenance, construction). Carried to the extreme, your goal will introduce discrimination based on a person’s sex which would take precedence over experience and qualifications.
    Alternatively, if I use your logic, men are under represented in nursing. Even though it is difficult for most nursing grads to achieve full time jobs, you should commence a campaine to provide incentives for men to enrol in nursing and discourage women from enrolling in the same.
    To conclude, if you feel that society will require more skilled trades in the future, then this should be promoted to everyone, independent of their sex and whoever desires to pursue a career along these lines will do so.

    • Kristina Urquhart says:

      Thanks for your comment, Gord. While it’s true in theory that women have equal opportunity to participate in the trades, historically, those opportunities have not been promoted as options to women, particularly in school. It’s not a matter of job preference, it’s a matter of industry perception.

      This task force is intended to promote the industry to women to encourage their participation when jobs are posted, and to encourage business leaders to retain them when they are hired. It’s not about hiring more women over men, or about discouraging men from applying, or about filling a gender quota over experience. Any industry that wants to encourage more participation from any group could absolutely start their own task force or campaign.

      On a related note, a panel on female leadership in the forestry industry that took place at PaperWeek earlier this year covered some interesting points. You can read it here: https://www.pulpandpapercanada.com/paperweek-canada-begins-with-bioeconomy-and-advancing-women-in-leadership-panels-1100001558/

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