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Creating Pathways for Women in the Skilled Trades | Solutions to Make It Possible

Over the past decade, the number of women entering the skilled trades has increased, but it is still a highly male-dominated industry. Women face a number of unique challenges when it comes to pursuing careers in the trades. These challenges include societal attitudes, financial barriers, lack of representation, and concentration in low-earning trades that make it difficult for them to access training and secure employment. In this blog post, we will examine these issues and explore solutions that could help create more pathways for women in the skilled trades.

Societal Attitudes

One of the main reasons why women are still vastly underrepresented in the skilled trades is due to societal attitudes. Many people still believe that these types of jobs are primarily suitable for men and that women who pursue careers in the trades are not as committed or capable as their male peers. This outdated and damaging stereotype needs to change. One way to do this is by promoting trades education in schools and vocational colleges to positively portray women’s achievements in the industry.

Financial Barriers

Women often face financial barriers when it comes to training and pursuing careers in the trades. Many women who want to pursue these careers simply cannot afford the cost of training or travel, especially when they opt into apprenticeship, housing, or relocation. Offering financial incentives such as loans, scholarships, or tax credits has been established as a solution to reduce these financial barriers of women in the skilled trades. As this can also serve as a point of motivation, with significant increase in number of enrolled women in the Skilled Trades.

Lack of Representation

Another significant barrier for women in the trades is a lack of representation in the industry. With gender bias still quite rampant, women often feel unwelcome, intimidated, or excluded in trade-centric environments. Lack of role models, mentors, executives, and peers can make it hard for women to envision themselves in this industry or know how to become part of it. Offering mentorship or peer support programs, both online or offline, and recruiting women in diverse trades professions can encourage, motivate, and inspire women to pursue successful careers in the trades.

Low-Earning Trades

Women are concentrated in low-earning trades, which often leads to less job satisfaction, lower wages and less potential for career advancement. Many women unknowingly enter into these low-earning trades because they aren’t aware of other options or discouraged by lack of job security. Offering pre-apprenticeship and alternative programs, increasing outreach, and creating job banks for trades jobs prove to help women to learn about the lucrative opportunities that may exist in trades, and help prepare women for higher-paying and rewarding trade career paths.

Women’s under-representation in the Canadian skilled trades is a multifaceted issue, which requires multifaceted solutions. Making trades training accessible, creating better financial supports, promoting trades in schools, offering mentorship, peer support programs, implementing vocational programs, and expanding recruitment channels can prove to be successful measures in promoting greater participation of women in the trades industry. Increasing participation and diversity among skilled trade workforces can provide much needed diverse perspective, create job satisfaction, reduce labour shortages, and bring economic benefits to Canada. Let’s work toward a more inclusive industry where all individuals have the opportunity to succeed.


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