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Labour shortage answer: Hire more tradeswomen

May 3, 2007

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B.C.'s critical skilled trades shortage could be eased from within its own labour force if trades employers hired more qualified women.

A new study prepared for Kate Braid, who holds the Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair in Women's Studies at SFU, shows that the number of women in the trades in B.C. and the Yukon has barely risen—from two per cent in the 1990s to about three per cent in 2007.

Braid, who discussed the study at a conference last month at SFU's Vancouver campus entitled Tradeswomen: A Winning Ticket, says the response of government and business to the current skilled trades shortage has largely been to recruit overseas. She says "its time to look at our own local labour force—and the 52 per cent of the population who are women."

Herself a trade-qualified carpenter, Braid says women have a history of involvement in the skilled trades.

"Women have always worked, and worked hard, and have been active in the skilled trades in this province since the Second World War, when there were 1,400 women at the Burrard Shipyard alone."

The April 20-21 conference was co-sponsored by SFU and BCIT in partnership with the B.C. Construction Association (BCCA).

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