The Women In Nontraditional Careers Readiness Program, a pre-apprentice program, is helping women enter apprenticeships in the trades. For many of these women, careers in the trades may have been of interest, but not careers that they were encouraged to enter before.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

On July 13, eight women began the WINC Tradeswomen Readiness Program, a six-week pre-apprentice class. …

In response to demand and labor shortages, almost every building trade union wants to diversify the group of apprentices. But the building trade unions are still learning how to reach people who may not have had an uncle, brother or father in unions, which have been predominantly white and male. For women, the added complication is that many haven’t seen construction jobs as an option.

Girls hear “be a teacher or be a nurse,” said Kelly Ireland, a union plumber.

The solution seems simple: Just bring more women into the unions. But it’s not easy.

Unions are not employers; they supply labor to employers. Nor are the building trades one solid entity with one recruitment office. Elevator builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, painters, and glaziers — each union has its own specialty, its own records, and its own admission process.

Their apprentice programs, however, are roughly similar. Every apprentice gets paid throughout three to four years of classroom work and mentored on-the-job training. To keep the apprentices employed and to make sure there’s a safe ratio of skilled journeymen to apprentices on job sites, unions and contractors have committees that forecast labor demand four years out.

What’s clear now is a demand for women, and awareness is growing of what it takes to recruit them. In addition to assisting with the pre-apprentice program, the city’s building trades are hosting high school and middle school girls at their facilities, part of this summer’s MyWIC camp — Mentoring Young Women in Construction.



Photo Credit: Alejandro A. Alvarez, Staff Reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer