The trades are not “a man’s world”. All are welcome to experience what the trades are about – all the hands-on elements are teachable.
Women perform just as well as men in the trades. Women also bring many additional skills and perspectives, such as collaborative communication styles, great attention to detail and empathy, which are recognized by many employers in the trades as important and valuable.
The first step to working in one of Ontario’s 144 trades is finding a suitable apprenticeship program. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Explore your options: Before you start an apprenticeship, make sure to do some research about the trades you are interested in, what you’ll be doing, working conditions, and how much money you can expect to make.
Find a sponsor: Once you’ve found the trade you want to pursue, you’ll have to find an employer/sponsor to sign you on as an apprentice. There are lots of resources available through Employment Ontario providers to help you along the way.
Sign an agreement: To become an apprentice, you’ll have to sign a Registered Training Agreement with your employer and contact your local Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) apprenticeship office.
Grants and loans: Apprentices may be eligible for federal or provincial grants and loans. There are also financial incentives for employers.
Become a member: After signing your Registered Training Agreement, you’ll have 90 days to become a member of the College. You’ll need to submit a member application form and your annual apprentice membership fee of $67.80 ($60.00+HST).
Myth: You can’t have both a family and a career in the skilled trades.
Reality: You can have both. Employers increasingly understand the value of supporting their employees and some have family-friendly policies.
If family is important to you, research your trade career of choice so you understand the specific requirements. The more information you gather, the better you will be at identifying the options available to you to ensure you can balance family life with work.
Myth: I don’t have the skills.
Reality: Many of the skills you are already using are transferable to a skilled trade occupation.
If you do not have the right skills right now, you can take courses to learn them. The skills needed for a career in the skilled trades are teachable. Do research to understand the specific requirements of your trade of interest. Consider job shadowing to get an accurate idea of what the job is really like.
Myth: Skilled trade jobs are not challenging.
Reality: People in these jobs work with some of the most sophisticated equipment; they design and build sports cars, buildings and robots; their training is leading-edge; they constantly work on new and exciting projects; and they need to be smart and able to adapt. These are jobs that require a great deal of commitment. The average apprenticeship takes as long as, or longer than, acquiring a university undergraduate degree — and apprentices get paid while they learn!
Bursaries & Scholarships
Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC) Bursary Awards – CAWIC awards bursaries to winning candidates from various post-secondary institutions in Ontario that provide diploma or degree programs in construction related disciplines.
Women in the Trade (WITT) Scholarship Fund – Dwyer Group – This scholarship exists to support the personal growth of women as they pursue education and training in plumbing, electrical, HVAC, restoration, landscaping, appliance repair, or glass repair and installation. Apply before the September deadline of the calendar year.
CAWIC Mentorship Program – CAWIC members offer advice and guidance drawn from considerable experience in the construction industry.
Journeyman Meet a Mentor – Journeyman is a national program that mentors women in the skilled construction trades.
“Skills Work!® for Women” Networking Dinner Series – These events are for young women in grades 9 through 12 to explore careers in the skilled trades in a positive environment. Young women have the opportunity to meet and network with tradeswomen from their own community.
Useful LinksChild Care
Ontario Child Care Support – Ministry of Education
Tools & Gear
Covergall’s Coveralls – Covergall’s are coveralls for women in the mining industry.
Moxie Trades – A company that sells skilled trades clothing appropriate for women.
Young Workers -Did you know that you have rights protecting you against workplace health and safety hazards, and to ensure that you are treated fairly? Employers and supervisors have duties under the law to protect you. Check out these resources to learn more about your rights and responsibilities on the job.
Young Worker Awareness Program – This program is available to any high school in the province of Ontario, Canada. It has two components: a general assembly presentation and a classroom instruction segment. Both the general assembly and classroom components stress student interaction.
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety – You’ve got a job. Or you’re getting ready to join the work world. Either way, it’s important to be prepared. Here’s your health and safety checklist. Check out these resources so you can be ready for anything you may come across on the job.
Workplace Safety – The Basics – Are you safe at work? Every year, hundreds of youth are injured or killed on the job, many of them within days of starting a new job. You and your employer each have rights and responsibilities for creating a safe and healthy workplace.