Canada’s Building Trades Unions launches women in the skilled trades initiative
May 7, 2014 by On-Site Magazine
A national program to promote, support and mentor women employed or considering employment within the unionized skilled construction trades was launched today at the 2014 Canadian Building Trades Legislative Conference in Gatineau, Que.
Journeyman is represented nationally by female representatives who are apprentices or journeymen, each a member of one of the 14 Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) affiliated trade unions. These women are responsible for mentoring trade workers and aspiring male and female workers, as well as attending various regional and local events on behalf of CBTU, including networking functions, mentorship events, high schools, charity and media events, trade shows and career fairs.
Lindsay Amundsen, director of program development and operations for Journeyman, said each of the representatives work in a variety of trades and have diverse backgrounds, stories and experiences.
“What inspires me about our representatives is how much they love what they do. They are passionate, strong and dedicated to what they do. I feel that they are trailblazers for the next generation of tradeswomen. I am so proud to work with them and I am so proud of the Journeyman program,” said Amundsen.
Journeyman founder and primary spokesperson Jamie McMillan is a Hamilton ironworker and foreman who passionately believes that women have what it takes to be successful in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
“The more we [at Journeyman] educate young women and men through mentorship, the more they will see the many incredible career paths they can pursue in the skilled trades. There are 14 affiliated Building Trades unions in Canada and over 60 apprenticeships within them, journeyman wages that range from $35 to $45 per hour, and a range of work from coast to coast. It sells itself,” said McMillan.
In Canada women represent only 4 per cent of the construction trade workforce. In other skilled trades, that number is even smaller.
In an industry already facing skilled labour shortages, studies show that a large population of existing trades workers are gearing up for retirement. BuildForce Canada estimates that 100,000 new workers will need to be recruited—in addition to the natural attrition caused by retirements—from outside the construction industry between 2013 and 2021 to help compensate for this gap.
This is an enormous opportunity for women seeking secure, well-paid and fulfilling employment in challenging careers.
“The truth of the demographic picture is that the Baby Boom Generation is leaving—over 25 per cent of the industry will turn over in the short- to mid-term. Women have the ability to change the template, the workplace and the norm. They add the dimension of brains and a fresh way of looking at things, and that is required,” said Robert Blakely, CBTU’s Chief Operating Officer.