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New CBTU program aims to increase women apprentices

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) have announced the launch of provincial Offices to Advance Women Apprentices (OAWA) in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. The federal government is providing $3.1 million over the next three years to open the offices, in an effort to assist women in apprenticeships.

“Today in the construction industry, women represent approximately four per cent of the workforce. Where the OAWA currently exists in Newfoundland, the number sits at 13 per cent; a successful model that we will replicate,” said Robert Blakely, Canadian Operating Office, Canada’s Building Trades Unions, in a news release.

The CBTU, in partnership with Manitoba’s Building Trades Unions, Saskatchewan’s Building Trades Unions and the Atlantic Canada Regional Council of Carpenters, Millwrights and Allied Workers, will create ongoing support services for women already employed, or seeking employment in skilled construction trades. Support provided to tradeswomen includes providing career services, employment supports and networking opportunities. The program will engage and build partnerships with over 75 key stakeholders, including employers, unions and training providers to improve participation and success of women in skilled trades. A registry database will also be developed to track services provided and apprenticeship numbers of tradeswomen.

The CBTU has enlisted Social Research Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) to provide research and evaluation to assess the impact of the program.

“We are building on this model of success, to create a meaningful program to change the face of construction,” said Lindsay Amundsen, director of workforce development for the CBTU and project manager of the OAWA project. “We will have measurable outcomes that will impact not only the construction industry, but the lives of those women that enter the trades, earn their Red Seal certification and pursue a lifelong career of learning in a challenging industry, with wages and benefits to support their families.”

The program expects at least 750 female apprentices, including Indigenous apprentices, to be served through the program. This number would increase the number of women in skilled trades by 30 per cent.

“The skilled trades are facing a shortage of workers, one that has been discussed at length over the last several years. One way we address this is to provide assistance and support to those underrepresented in our industry,” added Blakely. “Diversity and inclusion will create a stronger industry, address issues of respect in the workplace and fill the skills shortage with capable Canadians.”

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