14 Nov, 2017
Women entering or currently in a career in the building trades can look forward to improved workplace supports, services and practices thanks to a recent sector labour market project.
In Burnaby, Advanced Education, Skills and Training Minister Melanie Mark met with apprentices from Mott Electric to announce the completion of the Women in Trades labour market project. The project report identifies barriers preventing women from entering, advancing and staying in a career in the trades and suggests solutions to change it.
“Our government is working hard to provide more opportunities for women in the skilled trades. We need to fix the workplace culture so it’s a place that women feel respected and valued,” said Mark. “Women who want to pursue careers as electricians, sheet-metal workers, or other trades should be supported, and given opportunities in careers that will help build the best B.C.”
Less than three per cent of working women in B.C. have chosen a job in the building trades. The Women in Trades project report recommends providing women with workplace supports, like informal mentorship and networking programs, and enhancing employer human resource practices to make workplaces a more inclusive and accepting environment.
“Given the chance, women in the building trades excel,” said Lisa Langevin, assistant business manager and journey electrician, IBEW 213. “For decades we have been talking about ‘Women in Trades’ but we haven’t been moving the needle. It is time to stop talking about this issue, and start implementing programs that will actually see an increase in the number of women working in these great paying careers.”
The project report notes that many of the recommended anti-bullying policies and improved health and safety practices would benefit everyone in the trades.
“The Ministry of Labour and WorkSafeBC have been actively involved in the dialogue that has taken place about improving supports to women in the workplace and in particular, women in the trades sector,” said Minister of Labour Harry Bains. “We know that one of the key barriers to retaining women in trade is the unacceptable culture of bullying and harassment that some are exposed to. This culture is unacceptable and the behaviours must be guarded against and must not be tolerated by workers, their colleagues or employers.”
The project found that employers are eager to improve recruitment, retention and advancement of women in their workplace and in the building trades.
“Mott Electric is proud to be an inclusive employer that supports apprentices on all of our worksites,” said Dan Mott, president of Mott Electric. “Employers have a responsibility to create a worksite that is supportive of all workers. Sharing best practices and ensuring policies that clearly outline expectations are enforced go a long way.”
This collaborative project includes feedback and recommendations from employers, tradespeople, unions, the ITA, WorkSafeBC and other stakeholders from around the province.
“We need more women in the building trades if we are to fill the thousands of job openings projected by 2025,” said Gary Herman, CEO of the Industry Training Authority. “ITA will continue to fund and support British Columbian skilled tradespeople for the job opportunities of today and tomorrow.”
There are 115,000 job openings expected in the trades in B.C. through to 2025 due to retirement and economic development. High-demand trades occupations include millwrights, heavy duty mechanics and carpenters. Increasing the participation of women in the building trades would help to fill many of these job openings and meet labour market demand.
This $540,000 project was funded through the Canada-B.C. Labour Market Development Agreement.
The next step will be working with industry to develop pilot projects to address the issues identified in the research report; including anti-bullying and harassment awareness, employer policies around inclusive hiring practices and other supports, which aim to improve workplace culture.