On-Site Magazine

Encouraging diversity and leadership in the trades

By Adam Freill   

Construction Leadership Women in Construction

Canadian Apprenticeship Forum programs for women are inspiring inclusion in the skilled trades sectors of Canada’s economy.

To mark International Women’s Day, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) is celebrating the achievements of tradeswomen and gender diverse individuals working in the construction, manufacturing, transportation and service sectors.

In a statement issued to media, the organization shared that its data analysis indicate that the recruitment and retention of women in the skilled trades is an ongoing challenge. Looking at the total registrations for construction, manufacturing, and transportation trades in 2022, 5.8 per cent of apprentices were women. Moreover, women’s completion rates are consistently lower than men’s. In 2021, men had a 47 per cent completion rate and women 34 per cent.

Common barriers making these industries difficult to enter for women include unwelcoming workplaces, isolation, a lack of mentoring and limited advancement opportunities.

CAF-FCA and its more than 180 members – employers, unions, educators, jurisdictions, and equity priority groups – are addressing these barriers by investing in career advancement in the skilled trades.


Professional development training in leadership and mentoring is being offered to upper-level apprentices and journeypersons at no cost by CAF-FCA, with the programs open to women and gender diverse individuals who want to become future leaders and mentors. The Leadership Program, which is powered by RBC, is already having a tangible impact.

“The program is having a positive impact on women’s lives. After taking the program, women now have the confidence and knowledge about leadership to advance in their careers. Many have already received promotions and are keen to mentor and support others in the skilled trades,” observed France Daviault, CEO of CAF-FCA. “A higher number of women in leadership positions means more women apprentices will be hired and supported throughout their training. CAF-FCA and RBC are helping contribute to this positive change.”

The National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Trades includes five modules and group discussions facilitated by subject matter experts and tradeswomen coaches. The coaches provide guidance for overcoming workplace challenges, especially pertaining to developing effective leadership skills and strategies.

Additionally, program participants benefit from personalized one-on-one coaching to address their specific needs and have access to online materials on leadership skills, styles, and strategies. This program helps to empower women and gender diverse individuals to become effective future leaders in the skilled trades.

The National Mentor Development Program for Women in the Trades also consists of five modules, as well as group discussions facilitated by subject matter experts and tradeswomen coaches. The aim is to develop effective mentorship relationships, supported with access to online materials on mentoring, including giving and receiving constructive feedback.




Stories continue below