Stay Connected: Special Feature Article (October 27)

The construction industry is facing a labour shortage and now, more than ever, the importance of bringing women into the workforce is at an all time high. Traditionally, the construction industry has been a male dominated sector, however more and more women are seeking out the skilled trades as a career. The Ontario Construction Secretariat knows how essential it is for women to have a role in the construction industry and wanted to share a few organizations throughout the province that focus on attracting women to the trades and ensuring they feel welcomed and safe in the industry.

Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen, affiliated with the Ontario Building Trades Council, is a team made up of hundreds of Ontario tradeswomen. They focus on initiatives to advocate for women and underrepresented gender groups in the trades to ensure they feel inspired, welcomed, motivated, challenged, and empowered. They are committed to building awareness about the benefits of a career in the trades, such as- financial independence, job stability, benefits & pension, and growth opportunities. They are currently holding a variety of training sessions and events for Ontario tradeswomen, including “Owning the Room- Confidence Building for All Settings”, and monthly Trades Information Sessions. In June, Penny Estey, an Ironworker from Local 700, visited London, England as a delegate for the International Tradeswomen’s Conference Tradeswomen Building Bridges. Additionally, Genevieve Ellis, a Boilermaker Welder from Local 128 attended the Supporting Women in Trades 2022 (SWIT2022) conference hosted by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum. OBC Tradeswomen understands the importance of advocating for women in the trades, not only to attract women to currently underrepresented areas, but also to support women through their career and help them gain the confidence they need to succeed in the unionized construction industry.

Build TogetherWomen of the Building Trades is a national Canadian Building Trades Union program that promotes, supports, and mentors women in the skilled construction trades. In Canada, women represent only 4% of the construction trade workforce which has remained unchanged for years. The tradeswomen of Build Together, with the help of the industry, have a goal to change this. The program at Build Together uses a variety of tailored strategies that are used to recruit and retain women. Build Together has a variety of strategies for other employers and unions to create gender equal workplaces. Some of these solutions include: ‘Industry Leadership’ by creating authority and expectations to encourage inclusivity. Another solution is creating ‘networking, conferences and events for women’ to foster feelings of community and mitigate female isolation. They stress the importance of properly fitting PPE, and gender appropriate washrooms, along with flexible working hours to help women in special circumstances who have specific childcare duties or schedules. Finally, among many other initiatives, Build Together believes in the importance of creating respectful workplaces. This includes ensuring there is diversity in training, and a zero-tolerance policy of bullying or harassment in the workplace.

Supporting Women in the Trades (SWIT) was developed with the goal of creating sustainable and measurable change for women by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA), a national non-profit organization that is leading this effort. Their main goals are to increase the overall number of women apprentices, journeypersons, and supervisors in the underrepresented sectors of the skilled trades, along with creating a welcoming, and respectful workplace where women feel safe. SWIT uses #Champions4Change to promote change for women working in the skilled trades. SWIT also offers a National Leadership Development program to help teach women the skills needed to become leaders in their field. There are 5 modules included in the course, teaching the following topics: ‘Principles of Leadership’, ‘Communicating with Confidence’, ‘Teamwork, Mentoring and Conflict Resolution’, ‘Supervisory and Management Skills’, and ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing’. SWIT also encourages other organizations who hire and train women apprentices and journeypersons to pledge to these three things: Hire women apprentices, provide workplace education, and make your worksites safe.

Below are a few more organizations from other provinces across Canada, click on each link to learn more.

New Brunswick:
New Boots- MAP Strategic Workforce Strategies

British Columbia:
BC Centre for Women in the Trades

Women Building Futures

Les Elles de la Construction

Office to Advance Women Apprentices SK

Office to Advance Women Apprentices MB

Office to Advance Women Apprentices

Newfoundland and Labrador:
Women in Resource Development Corporation

Nova Scotia:
Office to Advance Women Apprentices NS

If we missed including your organization, please send us an email at to let us know so we can share it with our stakeholders.