It used to be that students or workers that missed entering academically driven career paths ended up in the skilled trades. This second choice often carried a subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – stigma of mediocracy and separated potential leaders from perpetual subordinates. It also separated men from women, as women were not given the choice to consider skilled trades as a career option.
At YWCA Toronto we see the impact of having being placed in the “perpetual subordinate” category. More often than not, women who were unsuccessful entering or maintaining a traditional career path arrive at our doors. They often carry a long string of precarious, unskilled, dead-end, poorly remunerated jobs on their resumes. For many, applying to our Skilled Trades programs is a second, third or fourth choice. We know it should have been their first from the beginning, and women very quickly realize that they excel as skilled workers.
YWCA Toronto is committed to closing the gap of women’s representation in traditionally male-dominated industries. We offer Skilled Trades training programs for the construction, horticulture and information technology sectors. We are currently recruiting for the Painter-Decorator Pre-Apprenticeship program and the job and salary prospects for this trade could not be better.
The economic and labour market landscape has changed so much that the skilled trades are becoming the best choice for many students and workers. It is time to park the stigma and give these workers – especially women workers – and their career choices the prestige, recognition and respect they deserve.
Dolores Montavez-Ruz is the YWCA Toronto’s Manager of Newcomer & Refugee Service; Women in Trades & Technology. Learn more at YWCA Toronto’s Painter-Decorator Pre-Apprenticeship program here.