A New Look for Women in the Skilled Trades

A career in a skilled trade can be a rewarding, stable position for men and women. There are many jobs available in BC and Alberta, especially for young adults entering the workforce.

And while women have traditionally made up a small portion of the skilled trades workforce, there are so many opportunities for women to earn a great living in the trades! And those jobs might look much different than you think.  Read on to learn more about the opportunties for women to thrive in the trades.  

Trades go beyond construction 

When we think of trades, many people think of industrial equipment, heavy-duty machinery, and workplaces such as large construction sites. These areas are typically male-dominated and can be extremely labour-intensive and physically demanding. Women who choose these trades often have to work harder and smarter for the same level of acceptance as her male counterparts. And many do. 

But did you know there are over 300 trades in Canada, and around half of them are not construction jobs? A trade is a job that needs some level of specialty training, often in a specialized school or environment. Bakers, hairstylists, florists, groomers, landscapers, and repair specialists are some examples. Not all trades have a recognized certificate program and still need to be learned “hands-on”.

The benefits of going into a trade

Trades offer a well-paying, steady job that often comes with extended benefits. Skilled trades can be a fulfilling, rewarding career. With experience, many trades workers go on to open their own businesses. 

Trades where women do well include:

  • Automotive service technician
  • Plumber
  • Dental Hygienist
  • HVAC Technician
  • Hair Stylist/Barber
  • Electrician
  • Esthetician
  • Welder
  • Carpenter
  • Wind Turbine Technician
  • Chef/Cook/Baker

Where women can do better

According to a 2022 CBC article, “Organizations working to encourage more women, girls into skilled trades,” across Canada, roughly 5% of skilled trades workers are women. This is partly because of common myths about skilled trades and a lack of representation of women in the trades for young women and girls to look up to. In 2023, many resources are available for women wanting to enter the trades. There are now social support groups, special funding,  and primers for girls that never existed before.

Support available for women entering the trades

There is a high demand for skilled tradespeople in B.C., and Alberta with many trades that have not traditionally hired women, now investing in women’s education in trades. Many schools offer training programs designed for women in order to give them the foundational skills needed to enter into a career in a trade. 

Resources for women looking to go into a trade

The provincial governments of BC and Alberta both offer programs and funding for women wanting to go into skilled trades. 

In 2023, Alberta’s budget includes increased funding for women in the trades. The $10.7 million over three years will go towards helping women get started with careers in the skilled trades. In BC, eligible women can apply for support, training and funding for trades training with BC Centre for Women in the Trades (BCCWITT).  

According to BCCWITT, “women represent the largest untapped source of skilled trades workers in British Columbia.” An increase in workplace diversity can lead to increased employee satisfaction and retention. 

Here are a few options for women in BC and Alberta interested in a career in a trade.