Whether you are a student thinking about life after high school or if you are contemplating a change later in life, consider a rewarding career in the skilled trades.

There is an expected (and well-publicized) skill trade worker shortage looming, with some estimates predicting the shortfall of trades people to be as high as 40%. In 2019, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum published a labour market report showing that between 2019-2023, an estimated 67,000 new journeypersons will be required to sustain the workforce certification levels across the 10 largest Red Seal trades in Canada. This kind of shortage would create a noticeable gap in how Canadian communities operate. 

Many industries are anticipating this shortage and opting to move past stereotypes to employ a more diverse workforce, including increasing the representation of women in trades. According to a 2016 report by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, in 2012 women only accounted for 14.2% of all registrations in the skilled trades. Most women who are working in trades are employed in the service sector, not manufacturing, transportation or construction. In some positions such as automotive service technicians, electricians, and carpenters, women make up less than 5% of the overall workforce. 

But there is nothing preventing women from pursuing careers in these sectors. Tradespeople require balance, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, stamina and academic skills in order to excel in their careers. These are not skills that are defined by gender, meaning nothing will stop women and those who identify as women from entering the skilled trades and contributing to their community in a tangible way. 

The Waterloo District School Board offers multiple “Women in Skilled Trades” events annually, including Build A Dream Career Expo’s, Explore your Future, and Jill of All Trades with Conestoga College.  All of these events offer lots of information on skilled trades, keynote speakers, and a chance to hear from sucessful women in the trades.

All of these skills can be developed in high school through the focussed classes, hands-on teaching and  experiential learning programs offered by the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB). Talk to the guidance staff at your school to see how Cooperative Education, Technological Studies, and other out-of-the-classroom opportunities can jumpstart your career in the skilled trades.