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New leadership program launched to promote women in skilled trades

November 11, 2021  By Ground Water Canada

Ottawa – A new program is being launched by The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum aimed at empowering skilled trades advocates at the June 2-3, 2022 Supporting Women in Trades Conference, to be held in St. John’s, NL.

The National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades is being developed in partnership with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices, and will be available to all tradeswomen, including Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ2S+ individuals, immigrants, persons with disabilities, and those from racialized groups.

Participants will be guided by subject matter experts, learning effective strategies and gaining practical tips to empower them as leaders in their workplaces and the broader community. Special attention will be paid to how the learning can be applied in a skilled trades workplace. With improved knowledge about strategies to mentor, take on leadership roles on the job site and within their unions, communicate, resolve conflict, and speak with confidence, tradeswomen can be leaders and inspire young girls and other women to thrive in the skilled trades.


The National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades will be offered at no cost to tradeswomen and offered in a safe and respectful setting. CAF-FCA and Office to Advance Women Apprentices will work with industry, trades unions, government, and training institutions to support development and administration costs.

Women are marginalized in skilled trades workplaces and experience barriers. Female apprentices report more difficulty finding employer sponsors and have lower apprenticeship completion rates than males (Prism, 2021).  As a result, non-completing women cannot access the high paying, full-time and leadership position work associated with certification in the trades.

A positive work environment and support from peers are key to program retention but in the absence of these women apprentices report poorer mental health than male apprentices (CAF-FCA, 2020) contributing to a lack of confidence and sense of isolation. Many women apprentices and journeypersons have limited access to leadership training or development opportunities for self-advocacy, public speaking, conflict resolution and mentoring.

For more information, visit or contact France Daviault:

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum – Forum canadien sur l’apprentissage (CAF-FCA) is a non-profit organization that connects Canada’s apprenticeship community. Participants work collaboratively to support vibrant and innovative apprenticeship systems and policies with a view to developing a highly skilled, inclusive and mobile skilled trades workforce. As a national voice for the apprenticeship community, CAF-FCA influences apprenticeship strategies through research, discussion and collaboration. Its research and events provide stakeholders with accurate, unbiased insights into apprenticeship challenges and barriers and illustrates the substantial benefits of hiring and training apprentices. Employers, unions, equity-seeking groups, educational institutions and the jurisdictions support CAF-FCA operations through membership.

The Office to Advance Women Apprentices was established in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2009 with funding from its provincial government, with a mandate of increasing employment opportunities for women in the skilled trades. In 2019 the office model was replicated in five other provinces across Canada and now has offices in Cape Breton, Mainland Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The office provides ongoing support to tradeswomen seeking work or already employed in the skilled trades. This includes providing career services, employment supports, and networking opportunities for tradeswomen.


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