Shining the spotlight on women in trades during Gender Equality Week

Gender Equality Week is September 23 to 27, and it’s a great opportunity for people from coast to coast to celebrate the progress in advancing gender equality in Canada.

Women may have to overcome systemic barriers in male-dominated industries, and it can be challenging to get their foot in the door and get the skills they need to advance their apprenticeships. Gender Equality Week is September 23 to 27, and it’s a great opportunity for people from coast to coast to celebrate the progress in advancing gender equality in Canada.

Industry Training Authority (ITA) manages over 100 skilled trades programs in B.C., with women registered in 74 different trades. One of our goals is to increase and retain the number of women in trades overall as well as increase the number of women in under-represented trades (all trades except baking, cooking, hairstyling, and landscape horticulture).

Part of the work we’re doing to increase those numbers is our Women in Trades Training (WITT) program. WITT provides women with pre-apprenticeship trades training services, such as exploratory programs offering hands-on skills development, essential skills training, employment counselling/coaching, job search assistance, mentoring with tradeswomen, and assistance with tuition supports in some regions for ITA-designated trades programs. We also offer a range of supports to women working in the trades who are struggling to complete their apprenticeship. 

And the needle’s moving in the right direction. In one year, from 2017/18 to 2018/19, the total number of female apprenticeships in British Columbia increased by four percent, and the number of female apprenticeships in under-represented trades increased by 11%. And in the same time period, the number of Certificates of Qualification issued to women increased by nearly 16%.

But the total number of female apprenticeships in under-represented trades as a percentage of all female apprenticeships has remained steady for the past three years at only five percent. While organizations like the BC Centre for Women in the Trades and initiatives like the Builders Code and Build TogetHER BC are aimed at reducing barriers, more work still needs to be done.

ITA will be holding several regional meetings across B.C. over the coming months to identify and develop regional solutions to attract and retain more women in construction. We’re looking forward to working with all our partners in the future to keep the needle moving forward.

There’s a variety of supports, initiatives and programs available for women interested in a skilled trades profession, and for employers looking for female apprentices. Email us at womenintrades@itabc.ca for more information and resources.

Take a look at our Women in Trades Training Page

Do you know an apprentice or employer champion?

The Champions of Apprenticeship are recognized for their outstanding achievements in BC apprenticeship system. These Champions are celebrated for their hard work in creating certified tradesworkers, supporting their industry and promoting apprenticeship. Do you know an outstanding employer sponsor or apprentice? Send us an email and nominate them to become a Champion of Apprenticeship!

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