A Women-Only Millwork Program to Tackle Labour Shortages

The College of Carpenters and Allied Trades (CCAT) in Woodbridge, Ontario, offers a women-only pre-apprenticeship program for millwork carpentry, which includes a job placement guarantee. With first-term apprentice wages, the students undergo four weeks of training and four weeks of work as apprentices.

Funded under Employment and Social Development Canada’s Women Employment Readiness program, the CCAT chose the millwork curriculum for this women-only initiative to meet the demand of commercial millwork contractors, in dire need of skilled workers.

You work inside so you don’t have to deal with weather extremes” and there are often fewer safety hazards, points out Pat Weaver, course’s instructor, in The Daily Commercial News.

We want to set these women up to succeed.”

Despite past discussions on developing initiatives to draw more women into the sector, there has, so-far, been very limited increase in numbers. According to Weaver, while women are welcomed withing the trade, they have yet to catch up to years of discouraging societal barriers.

Cristina Selva, executive director of the CCAT tells The Daily Commercial News, the program is tailored to support the students’ needs. They receive a $700 subsidy for tools and personal protective equipment, a $40 per-day travel allowance for the duration of the program, a childcare subsidy, a training allowance covering tuition, textbooks, and iPads with industry software.

Additional funds are available to “help women succeed and stay in this industry,” Selva points out.

There are other similar programs across Canada, run by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, Canadian District, says Selva, adding that if the millwork course proves successful, the federal government will continue to work with the UBC on other courses like it.

I think this model is very flexible and can be easily adapted to any of our key sectors…We could run this type of course for the floor covering trades, or drywall, roofing, siding or any aspect of carpentry in need of workers.


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