emPOWERing Women in Alberta’s Trades

Women account for less than 5% of the trades workforce at a time when North America faces a talent shortage in the Trades Industry.

Traditionally, the trades have been male-dominated but more and more women are finding opportunities in trades like woodworking, scaffolding, ironwork and gone are the days when women’s options were limited to trades related to cooking, home economics or hair styling.

Attracting women to the trades not only ensures diversity and inclusivity, it also assists employers in covering the acute skills shortage in the industry as Baby Boomers retire.

In March, Manpower Alberta partnered with SAIT to launch emPOWER, a 15-week cost-free, government-funded program designed to help unemployed or marginally employed women develop the skills to seek employment in the trades. It aims to promote diversity in the world of trades and sets women on the path to an apprenticeship.

“I have always loved the hands-on jobs or projects around the house, with friends and family. So why not look into the Trades?” Shelley, an emPOWER client said. 

Like many others in the program, Shelley had no prior experience with trades, she had worked in the retail industry for ten years before she came across this Manpower program.

“The take away for me has been utterly positive, profound and inspiring,” Shelley added.

“I only wished that we could have had more time in each class.  Now I feel so much more confident, have a newfound strength and empowerment in myself to tackle anything and to find a great job in the Trades. Woodworking, Plumbing, and Welding are my favorites!”

Through emPOWER, participants pursue pre-apprenticeship training in five trades offered by SAIT —including ironworking and heavy equipment technician — and have the opportunity to prepare for the Apprenticeship and Industry Training qualification exam.

They also partake in one week of employment preparation, skills training and 10 weeks of on-site industry-standard skills training provided by SAIT as well as four weeks of work experience placement with a local Trades employer.

Our next emPOWER cohort starts classes on September 9th, 2019. If you are interested in joining this program or know someone who could benefit from our resources, please reach out to Natalie Smith by phone or email at: 403-437-4953 or

leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *