© Reuters. In this undated handout photo, Millwrights Cassandra Whalen (C), Della Ryan, and Amanda Reese pose outside Carpenter Millwright College in Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Kassondra Barry photography/handout from Reuters.
Ottawa (Reuters)-Canada’s shortage of skilled workers is increasing, which may threaten the pace of the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has allowed policymakers to focus on an untapped market for new construction workers: women.
But it has long proven difficult to attract and retain women in the technology industry. Businesswomen and advocates cited the challenges of balancing parenting and field work. Stubborn gender discrimination is still ingrained in some workplaces, and women lack opportunities to get involved.
Vanessa Miller was a young single mother when she decided to give up her job in welding at university. She got her travel ticket and became a rare person in Canada: a woman with her own welding equipment, a truck, equipped with all the equipment needed to complete the big job.
From her home in Regina, Saskatchewan, she said: “Every time you go to a different job and no one knows who you are, you have to prove yourself.” “Entering this industry is still difficult, it is still very Male-dominated.”
Like other developed countries, Canada is facing a shortage of skilled trade workers, just as the construction boom supported by the pandemic is underway. At the same time, due to the pandemic, more women than men are unemployed, and since February 2020, approximately 54,000 women have left the labor market.
Royal Bank of Canada economist Kelly Freestone said that the gap between the female labor force participation rate and the male labor force cost the Canadian economy 100 billion Canadian dollars (79.3 billion US dollars) each year.
“Obviously, skilled trading is a good opportunity,” Freestone said.
In its latest budget, the Liberal Government of Canada pledged to provide 470 million Canadian dollars (373.2 million Canadian dollars) to support the recruitment of new apprentices for the industries most in demand. Companies that employ women, indigenous peoples, and other minorities receive double funding.
But women and union leaders who work in the industry say that it takes more than money to get more women into the industry.
Lindsay (NYSE:) Amundsen, director of workforce development for the Canadian Construction Union, said: “We are working hard to guide businesswomen to build our supply to underrepresented groups.” But she said that major projects should There are quotas to ensure that women are hired.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Ministry of Infrastructure said that Canada has proposed to set quotas for certain groups (such as women and Aboriginals) in major projects that receive federal support, but the provinces set quotas.
More than a decade ago, Newfoundland and Labrador realized that efforts to make women more interested in these industries were working, but few people persisted.
The province funded the Office for the Promotion of Female Apprenticeships (OAWA) to connect female craftsmen with employers and set recruitment quotas for women and other underrepresented groups (such as indigenous people) in major projects.
By 2017, approximately 14% of construction workers working in Newfoundland and Labrador will be women, which is much higher than the national average of 3-4%, but there are still some obstacles.
When the skilled craftsman Cassandra Whalen recently landed in the remote Voisey’s Bay in Labrador, she discovered that there was no safety equipment the same size as hers.
“I need a respirator, I need gloves, I need a seat belt, and they are not small in size,” she said. “They must be airlifted in.”
But Whalen loves her job and says the union advocates to make the industry more inclusive.
One of the unions leading the allegation is UA Canada, which pays pregnant members who are unable to work due to safety risks up to 24 weeks of wages. They also pay extra for men and women who take parental leave after their babies are born.
“I really think it really helps with retention,” said Alanna Marklund, UAC’s national manager, who is also a skilled welder.
But childcare services are still a problem for many female artisans. Several businesswomen interviewed by Reuters stated that they rely on their family members or spouses to help take care of their young children.
Maggie Budden is a skilled blacksmith. After the birth of her child, she found a job in a bank. She said: “Unfortunately, construction requires travel, and I can’t do it with my daughters.” She now runs OAWA’s newest branch in Cape Breton.
Daniella Francis was living in Ontario when she started thinking about a deal, but she couldn’t find any plans for women in her province. She eventually moved her family to Alberta and is now an apprentice plumber.
“There needs to be more choices,” she said, but added: “I want to say, as a woman, don’t be afraid to engage in trading. Things are changing.”
($1 = 1.2594 Canadian dollars)