Have you considered a career in the skilled trades? More and more women are rejecting gender stereotypes and realizing the many benefits of careers such as plumbing, carpentry and electrician work.
The trades offer excellent pay and job prospects, flexible hours, and rewarding work that brings feelings of pride and accomplishment. There are also many opportunities for specialization and career growth. Women like Karma Hunter and Ani Bogovic have even gone on to own their own construction companies.
The biggest obstacle is probably the common misconception that the skilled trades are not good jobs for women. Among people receiving trade qualifications in Canada, it’s estimated that less than 5% are women, a number that has actually dropped over 10% since the early 1990s.
But times are changing. Improved awareness, the availability of numerous apprenticeship and mentoring programs, and shifting gender attitudes in our society are leading to more women choosing to pursue trades training.
Changing Perceptions of Women in the Skilled Trades
The relatively low number of women in the trades can be partly explained by a lack of available role models. Girls are often guided by parents, teachers and other influencers into so-called “traditional” careers based on gender, sometimes without them even realizing it.
Some may wrongly assume that the trades are only for people who lack the academic skills or creativity for other employment paths, or that they require a lot of physical strength.
The truth is that skills like reading and writing, analysis, numeracy and communication are necessary for most trades jobs. Creative problem solving is certainly needed as well – there’s a good reason they call it the “skilled” trades!
And while there is definitely a physical aspect of this work, general fitness is required more than brute strength.
Trades work mostly requires stamina, dexterity, balance and hand-eye coordination, which females possess just as much as males. It’s all about getting the job done correctly and safely with patience and attention to detail.
Benefits of a Trades Career for Women
Many women have overcome the outdated idea that the trades are men’s jobs and found great satisfaction in the diversity of the work, and being able to immediately see the fruits of their labour.
Office work isn’t for everyone. Instead of sitting behind a desk all day, trades workers are actively figuring out how things function, solving problems, running their own businesses, and serving the community.
In the next decade, it is expected that close to 40% of current tradespeople will retire and need to be replaced. To meet Canada’s infrastructure needs, it is critical that women form a significant proportion of new recruits.
Accessing these fantastic job prospects means realizing that trades work isn’t unchallenging, dirty and low paid, as many have been led to believe.
Girls and women need to know that the trades are more than a viable option—this is a very smart and lucrative career path.
Trades careers typically pay quite well, and feature enviable stability, benefits and job security. And unlike many other fields, the skilled trades enable students to earn while they learn through apprenticeships.
After completing construction trades college and becoming certified, many tradespeople appreciate the independence of setting their own hours and rates to achieve a happy work-life balance.
Taking Advantage of Resources to Get Started in the Trades
To embrace available opportunities, and get started in trades training, women will need the determination to take risks, and develop their confidence.
Asserting yourself in a typically male-dominated environment is not always easy, but as you build your skills and hone your craft, you’ll quickly command respect.
There is no place for sexism in the 21st century, and gender diversity is highly desirable at most workplaces. Top employers really appreciate the different qualities women bring to the job.
When getting started, it’s ideal to have a mentor. Almost every community has females working in the skilled trades who are usually happy to share advice.
Many government programs have emerged in recent years to encourage women to pursue trades careers. There are tax incentives for employers who hire women apprentices, grants for training, and tax deductions for tools.
A great pre–apprenticeship training program can give you all the technical and safety foundations you need to get started. You’ll learn from teachers with extensive experience in the construction industry, while gaining hands-on practice solving problems you’ll face on-the-job.
Are you interested in learning more about trades training in Ontario?
Click on the Request Information bar at the right of this screen to receive fast, free information from the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute: Ontario’s leading trades college. We’re here to help!
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