The trades seem to be one of those things that people understand only on a broad level. Ask someone what they think of the trades, and they will probably list examples found in construction, not power engineering or cooking. For all this talk of getting more women interested in working in the trades, how are people supposed to get a foot in the door if they don’t understand the industry?
One method that Camosun College in Victoria, BC is doing is the Women in Trades Training Program. The program is aimed at women and offers them an opportunity to explore different trade jobs. It’s 12-weeks long and focuses on exploring various trades through tours for women to narrow down their decisions and pick a trade that interests them. It is also a chance for the students to meet with women already working in the industry, so they don’t feel alone.
Another barrier to entry is the assumption that women have to put up with a lot to be taken seriously and be respected by their peers. We do hear this from some people in the industry, but at some companies, the hard work has already been done by other women for decades.
It can be lonely, being the only woman working within a team of all men, so prepare for that and seek out other women in the industry as both mentors and friends. There can be a lot of trepidation around the trades, but thankfully, many employers and unions won’t tolerate harassment of any kind.
The trades are a possible venue to use both your hands and your brain to problem solve. There are excellent benefits from working in construction, manufacturing, mining and oil and gas where there are lots of skilled trades jobs. The trades provide competitive wages to having lots of autonomy as an employee. The industry you are looking at may not be for everyone, but no one should dismiss any sector or company just because of a lack of information.
Things are getting better. There are systems and bills put in place to help and support women in the industry. The main thing missing is time for these systems to set in as more and more women begin to enter the Industry, and statistics shift from women being a small percentage to 50%. But for that to happen, more women need to get more involved in the Trades. And one of the best first steps anyone can take is providing more information on what to expect.
Kael Campbell is President and Lead Recruiter of Red Seal Recruiting Solutions, a company providing recruitment services in mining, equipment and plant maintenance, utilities, manufacturing, construction, and transportation. When he is not recruiting, Kael spends as much time as possible with family in the great outdoors and on the water. He volunteers his time as a Board Member of the Entrepreneurs Organization of Victoria and a Member of Victoria Marine Search and Rescue. You are invited to subscribe to our employer newsletter or submit your resume.