Labour Tradeswomen get hand starting their careers

Brodie Thomas
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Karen Walsh and Bev Mahoney were in Port aux Basques April 29 to talk about programs that match female apprentices and tradeswomen with business owners who need their skills. — Photo by Brodie Thomas/The Gulf News

It’s no secret that tradespeople are in high demand at the moment. But for women who want to start a career in a skilled trade, a booming economy doesn’t always guarantee an easy time finding work.

That was the message Karen Walsh from the Office to Advance Women Apprentices brought to Port aux Basques April 29.

Walsh said her office was created in 2009 to help women in non-traditional trades get into apprenticeships and full-time jobs. By all accounts, it is working.

Besides networking with tradeswomen who are just graduating from school, her office also networks with businesses looking to hire tradespeople, and she sells them on the benefits of hiring female apprentices.

She said there is still some hesitation from employers to hire women, but not as much.

“Employers are now starting to call our offices,” she said.

Wage subsidies

Walsh said the provincial government is encouraging contractors and businesses to hire apprentices by offering wage subsidy programs.

There are various programs. One has the provincial government paying 90 per cent of a female apprentice’s wage in the first year, 80 per cent in the second year and 60 per cent in the third and fourth years.

The Office to Advance Women Apprentices gives women an extra hand by helping them with their resumes, searching across Canada for job openings and sending out resumes on their behalf.

As a woman studying to be a cabinet maker, Stephanie Ciz said she knows she is entering a workforce dominated by males.

She is getting her resume ready as she prepares to complete the nine-month cabinet making program at College of the North Atlantic next month.

She was at the Friday morning information session.

Ciz said she plans to register with the office.

“It gives me a lot more options and ways of finding and keeping a job,” she said.

Bev Maloney was also at the information workshop. She is the program development officer, industrial training section with the provincial government.

As a woman who trained in a trade and worked beside men on industrial sites, she has insight into why women go into trades.

“You don’t really do it for the money. You do it because its something you feel you must do,” she said.

Maloney said she is a millwright by trade, and has worked in Labrador and Alberta.

“I never once, in all my years of work, had an issue. I never had anyone disrespect me,” she said.

Walsh said anyone thinking about training in the trades — either women or men — can visit to sign up for a trades training program.

It will pay people to work at a trade for a month with no strings attached, and provides a $2,000 bursary if they decide to train in that trade.

The Gulf News

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, Gulf News

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, Canada, Labrador Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Wally
    May 15, 2011 - 09:35

    Woman want equality. That's a good thing. Not caring on how they get there. That's a bad thing.

    • Chantal
      May 16, 2011 - 07:44

      Feeling a little inadequate, are we, Wally?