Apprenticeship forum encourages women to enrol in skilled trades

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) says the pilot for the new National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades was a tremendous success.

The program was developed in partnership with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices (the Office) and is available to all tradeswomen including Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ2S+ individuals, immigrants, persons with disabilities, and those from racialized groups. The pilot program was completed in December of 2022 and, the next cohort will start in February 2023.

The pilot program saw 14 participants successfully earn a certificate for completing the course and CAF-FCA could not be happier with the results. Participants fully committed to the program. The tradeswomen were genuine, sincere, and thoughtful.

“The goal of this program and other future programs being considered by CAF-FCA, is to support a pathway to leadership opportunities within the skilled trades. When there is equitable decision making and inclusive leadership in a place of work, recruitment, retention, and productivity are positively impacted,” said France Daviault, executive director of CAF-FCA  “The National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades is offered at no cost to tradeswomen and offered in a safe and respectful setting.”

CAF-FCA and the Office to Advance Women Apprentices are working with industry, trades unions, government, and training institutions to support development and administration costs. The next cohort is set to start on Feb. 13, and information to apply for the September 2023 cohort will be released in the coming months.

Participants were “empowered by the conversations with their peers and tradeswomen coaches and now are committed to helping other equity priority groups succeed in the trades and advance their own careers.”

“I want to say thank you for putting this course on and helping me find myself again. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and I am so happy I was selected to be a part of this, it came at the absolute best time in my life. You have helped me regain my confidence, I am back to enjoying my trade and back to feeling like me again.,” shared one participant.

Women were guided by subject matter experts to learn effective strategies and gain practical tips to empower them as leaders in their workplaces and the broader community and many said they appreciated the special attention that was paid to how the learning can be applied within the skilled trades.

“This course was fantastic, and I have benefited so much. I head into 2023 with a strong base of leadership skills to build from,” one participant stated. “I highly recommend this course for any tradesperson looking to develop themselves and help others along the way. The work that CAF-FCA has put into this is so appreciated and has made an enormous difference in my life and career.”

The program focused on improving knowledge about strategies to mentor, take on leadership roles on the job site and within their unions, communicate, resolve conflict, and speak with confidence.

“I am truly grateful for the chance to reflect on what this program has meant for me both professionally and personally. It came to me at the perfect time in my life and I am a better tradesperson for having met my cohort and our talented facilitators and studied this incredibly valuable material,” a participant stated. “I am so eager to show you all what I am capable of, what I can build for myself, and how I can serve others with the skills and techniques I have developed these past months.”

One participant has received a promotion since completing the program, while another wants to organize a confidence building workshop for women in her union.

“Even with this first cohort and the engagement and success so far, it is evident that given the correct tools and support for  growth and leadership, women will positively impact change and advancement in the trades sector. As women leaders embrace equity, diversity and inclusion, their leadership style will influence how apprentices act on-the-job, leading to more supportive and safe workplaces for all employees” said Karen Walsh, project consultant, Office to Advance Women Apprentices.


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