Mining industry studies have helped Skills Canada Ontario and Women in Nuclear (WIN) produce a book designed to get more women involved into less traditional working roles. “Women Working in the Skilled Trades and Technologies: Myths & Realities” debunks six false stereotypes about women in the trades.
Getting more females into skilled trades and technology careers is seen as being crucial to support Canada’s economy and infrastructure. “The crisis associated with critical shortages of skilled workers makes it imperative that government, educators and industry work together as partners and utilize a cohesive approach in solving the problem of skilled worker shortages and do everything possible to attract women to the skilled trades and technologies,” said Gail Smyth, executive director of Skills Canada Ontario.
Women comprise 47.4% of the total Canadian workforce. Mining knows females will need to have a larger role in the industry. Currently, females make up 14.4% to the total mining workforce and there is a major role for women to play in the mineral sector as it works to solve its own skilled trades shortage.
A book from Women in Mining, “Ramp-Up: A Study on the Status of Women in Canada’s Mining and Exploration Sector” (Feb. 2010), provided a solid foundation for this new paper. Of the 81 references cited in the new Skills Canada Ontario and WIN paper, 11 are from the mining industry’s “Ramp-Up” document.
To look at things a little more positively, here are the realities which counter six myths about women in skilled trades and technologies. Skilled trades offer women high pay, good benefits, flexibility, variety, rewarding work and unlimited opportunity; It is impossible to function in the trades – to build, design, fix or create – without pride in craftsmanship, expert knowledge and creative talent. Without the women and men who work in the skilled trades and technologies, the homes, schools, businesses, hospitals, roads and technologies that support our society itself would literally disintegrate. . . . .
“Women’s recruitment and retention will strengthen Canada’s economic position in a global economy by capitalizing on the industry’s full human resource potential. In order to work in the skilled trades and technologies, one needs to have a solid grounding in math, analytical abilities and literacy. Many women working in the skilled trades enjoy sharing their stories and inspiring young up-and-comers to consider these careers.”
This paper is a call to action for the future. It recognizes females as a huge untapped resource for the trades and technologies fields – and mining. It urges government, education and industry to do everything possible to attract women to careers in the skilled trades and technologies and more importantly to retain them. It is estimated by the Mining Industry Human Resource Council that Ontario’s mining industry will need between 5,578 and 17,000-plus new employees leading up to 2018.
Skills Canada Ontario, which opened its doors in 1989, is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate to promote careers in skilled trades and technologies as viable first-choice employment options for young people in Ontario. More than 600,000 students benefit from the programs and activities Skills Canada Ontario facilitates each year. The organization works through partnerships with industry, education, labour and government.
The OMA is involved in an agreement with Skills Canada Ontario to support the work of liaison officers making presentations in schools, to contribute to the SKILLS WORK! Book publication and to promote mining involvement and general awareness of the technological skills competitions
*Peter McBride is manager of communications at the Ontario Mining Association. Contact him at pmcbridge@OMA.on.ca or 416-364-9301.