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skilled trades

Sheridan, St. Clair, Fanshawe and Durham College partner to support women in Red Seal Trades

Jan 19, 2024

Group photo magnaA new venture aimed at increasing women’s participation and retention rates in Red Seal trades across Ontario has received over $2 million in federal funding.  

Funded in part by the Government of Canada's Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy, Women in Red Seal Trades – Advancing the Career Ecosystem brings together Sheridan College, St. Clair College, Fanshawe College and Durham College, in partnership with Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union. Unifor contributed an additional $300,000 to the grant.

Over three years, this group will spearhead initiatives focused on elevating awareness and providing opportunities for women in exploring career education, networking and apprenticeships within the Red Seal skilled trades. The Red Seal Program sets common standards to assess the skills of tradespeople across Canada. The Red Seal endorsement is proof that a tradesperson has met the national standard in their trade. 

By 2025, one in five jobs in Ontario will be in the skilled trades, and it’s estimated that by 2028, the skilled trades shortage in Ontario will increase to 560,000. With women making up just 5 per cent of workers in the skilled trades in Canada, this program will work towards closing this gap through the retention of these talented tradespeople, offering women the support they need to be successful in their chosen fields. 

Key to the partnership’s goals is the establishment of a Women in Trades Network which will feature a community for apprentices and women in the trades. This network will aim to build community through events and mentorship (both virtual and in person). Sheridan, St. Clair, Fanshawe and Durham will leverage their well-respected expertise, industry contacts and alumni within the skilled trades to build and maintain this network, offering women in the skilled trades a safe space to connect, network and share lived experiences.  

Some of the additional key goals of Women in Red Seal Trades – Advancing the Career Ecosystem include: 

- Increased partner network capacity to support women in skilled trades.  
- Increased participation and higher retention of women apprentices. 
- Reduced barriers for women to accessing trades training and finding secure employment. 
- Increased preparedness and willingness by industry partners and employers to continue hiring women apprentices. 
- Increased knowledge of the long-term recruitment strategies for women entering the Red Seal trades. 

QUOTES 

“Reducing barriers for women entering the skilled trades is an essential part of expanding and diversifying Canada’s workforce. We created the Women in the Skilled Trades Initiative to help women participate and succeed in Red Seal trades apprenticeships through projects like the Women in Red Seal Trades – Advancing the Career Ecosystem. Supporting Women in the skilled trades is not just the right thing to do, it will help meet the growing demand for skilled trades workers and help grow our economy.”  

— Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages 

“Empowering women in skilled trades isn’t just about breaking barriers; it’s an investment in our shared success. Our Government is proud to support initiatives like this collaboration between colleges and Unifor, creating pathways for women to excel. We will continue to build a workforce that harnesses every talent, ensuring everyone in Canada has the support and opportunities they need to thrive.” 

— Sonia Sidhu, Member of Parliament for Brampton South 

“Increasing access to training and addressing the shortfall of skilled workers in Ontario is a key focus for Sheridan as an institution. We know that the women studying in our trades programs are skilled, strong, capable and poised to succeed. We can, and must, do more to champion these alumnae once they enter the workforce. I’m confident that this funding will help support efforts to provide women in skilled trades apprenticeships with financial, social and academic support.” 

— Dr. Janet Morrison, President and Vice Chancellor, Sheridan College 

"With every passing year during the past decade, we've seen a steady and encouraging -- but still small -- increase in the number of women entering our skilled trades programs and apprenticeships. We're confident that this new funding, and the involvement of Unifor as a partner, will spur yet more women to explore these personally rewarding and financially lucrative careers." 

— Patti France, President, St. Clair College 

"I am thrilled to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Federal government for its invaluable financial contributions to our College and supporting the advancement of women in the Red Seal Skilled Trades Program. This generous backing is poised to play a pivotal role in dismantling barriers and promoting inclusivity within the traditionally male-dominated skilled trades sector. I am confident that this sponsorship will empower more women in our community to pursue and excel in Red Seal designated trades, thereby contributing to a more diverse and dynamic workforce within our province." 

— Lucido Zuccato Dean, School of Engineering Technologies, Apprenticeship, and Skilled Trades Faculty for St. Clair College 

“Fanshawe College is grateful for the generous resources made available by Employment and Social Development Canada. We are excited to advance our shared goals alongside Sheridan College, St. Clair College, Durham College, and Unifor, by co-constructing exploratory hands-on experiences that will enable women to unlock their potential in the skilled trades. Together, we will be able to ignite innovative opportunities aimed to inspire more women to make new connections, both with each other and with employers, across Ontario. We are excited to witness the impact this initiative will have on our local communities and workforce.” 

— Britney Hunter, Chair, Apprenticeship and Skilled Trades Accelerator, Fanshawe College  

 “Durham College is proud to support this project as a means to increase the engagement and success of women in the skilled trades by identifying and removing barriers to their participation. Through this partnership, we will continue to lead the way by developing knowledgeable and experienced skilled trades graduates who can step into rewarding careers that can make a difference in our local communities.”  

— Dr. Elaine Popp, Executive Vice President Academic, Durham College

“Unifor is proud to partner with Sheridan, St. Clair, Fanshawe and Durham Colleges to support the Women in Red Seal Trades – Advancing the Career Ecosystem program. For too long systemic barriers have meant far too few women enter the trades with even fewer choosing to remain. It is past time for women to take their rightful place as Red Seal Tradespeople. Our union is committed to supporting the colleges’ bold new initiatives to that end.”

– Lana Payne, Unifor National President

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