In celebration of National Women’s History Month, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) is releasing a first-ever, National Strategy for Supporting Women in Trades (SWiT).

In 2019, CAF-FCA led a task force of more than 60 skilled trades stakeholders who came together to guide and inform a strategy to create measurable change for women’s representation in skilled trades careers in Canada. The industry driven strategy has four clear and measurable action items that are intended to generate awareness, trigger policy change, recognize best practices and create skilled trade workplace environments where women’s representation increases.

“The SWiT National Strategy has brought together groups and organizations doing the work to recruit and retain tradeswomen in the construction industry,” said task force member Lindsay Amundsen, director of workforce development at Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU). “And together, through identifying barriers and developing strategies for success, SWiT will help change the face of construction and increase diversity within our industry.”

According to the Statistics Canada Registered Apprenticeship Information System 2018 data, when apprentice registrations in the construction, manufacturing and transportation sectors were analyzed, women represented 4.5 per cent of apprentice registrations. The SWiT task force established a national target to increase participation and retention of women in skilled trades careers to 15 per cent by 2030.

Another priority of the strategy was to identify tactics to create respectful workplaces.  “CAF-FCA is committed to being a catalyst for diverse and inclusive workplaces,” said France Daviault, executive director of CAF-FCA.  “Under-represented groups including women, transgender, two-spirited, intersexed or gender non-binary have a fundamental right to a safe, healthy and equitable workplace, free of harassment, bullying, and discrimination.”

The SWITCANADA.CA web page provides links to tools to assist employers, unions, educators and tradeswomen in creating healthy, safe, and inclusive workplaces. “The goal is to have best practices from across sectors available in one place. There is no need to recreate the wheel – there are some tried and tested tools out there that organizations are willing to share,” adds Daviault.

The strategy is a national movement and call for champions who commit to making a difference through a public pledge. The pledge requires that they share their internal numbers on the percentage of women apprentices and journeypersons they employ in skilled trades work annually.

“Those who join the movement as champions by taking the #CHAMPIONS4CHANGE pledge are truly changemakers and leaders,” said Daviault. “They understand that numbers matter and aren’t afraid to be part of the discussion. We are beyond rhetoric as the number hasn’t increased in years. It’s time to be bold by holding industry accountable for the numbers.”

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