DC launching new pre-apprenticeship program to encourage women in skilled trades

Although Canada’s need for skilled workers is no secret, according to Statistics Canada women’s representation in the trades remains low, accounting for only five per cent of all skilled trades workers in the country. To help fill this gap, Durham College (DC) will launch a new, all-women Elevating Devices Mechanic (EDM) pre-apprenticeship training program at the end of February.

“Ontario is expecting to see a high demand for skilled workers such as elevator constructors/mechanics and crane operators over the next 10 years,” said Christine Murphy, manager, Access Programs and Employment Services, DC. “These professions offer exceptional opportunities for employment yet women are still not entering them in any significant number. We want to get the word out about these careers, encourage women to pursue them and prepare our students to seize these opportunities in the job market.”

The need for certified EDMs is high due to the ongoing high-rise boom in cities, aging infrastructure in need of modernization and increased safety and maintenance standards. EDM is also one of many skilled trades facing a transitioning workforce as baby boomers retire in record numbers.

As one of only two organizations in Ontario to offer an EDM apprenticeship program, DC is known for its training expertise in this area, making the women’s EDM pre-apprenticeship program a natural fit for the college.

Through the program, which will see up to 15 women enrolled in full-time studies, students complete the in-school apprenticeship training for EDM Level 1; gain exposure to a secondary trade through an Industrial Mechanic Millwright course; and gain industry experience through a placement opportunity. Students will also receive safety and workplace preparedness training tailored for women entering a skilled trade.

To deliver this training, DC is partnering with the Microskills Community Development Centre (MCDC). MCDC will instruct students on a variety of topics, including recognizing and responding to unsafe scenarios; personal integrity and ethical practices; maintaining personal and professional boundaries; forms of harassment and strategies to address the situation; problem solving for work-life balance conflicts; and job mobility and developing leadership potential.

The program is being funded through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, which seeks to increase the number of new participants enrolled in apprenticeship programs while addressing skilled-trade shortages.