Women in Resource Development: WRDC Women in Resource Development


Women in Construction

By Daphne Hart


The following article appeared in the NLCA Journal- Issue 2012.
To view the article as it appeared please click below:
NLCA Article - 2012.jpg


Changing Paradigms: Making the Shift to Include Women on Construction Sites

With the current robust developments in our construction sector (estimated at $580 million in St. John's and the surrounding area alone) and the large, resource-based projects happening in Newfoundland and Labrador, companies are preparing for the boom. Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC) has identified 103 projects totalling $43.6 billion taking place in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The question we've been asking ourselves is: Where will employers find workers to fill the labour demand? The increase in demand for construction workers, coupled with an aging workforce, has resulted in the need for industry to tap all potential sources of labour, including women (Construction Moving Forward 2008-2016, Key Highlights, Construction Sector Council, 2008).

Women in Resource Development Corporation (WRDC) believes that increasing women's participation in the construction trades is part of the solution for the projected skilled labour shortage. Industrial employers have indicated that the inclusion of female labour is desirable but not happening quickly enough. Today, women make up approximately 50% of our provincial labour force, yet they represent less than 7% of the workforce in trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations. In the construction trades not including painters and decorators women represent 4% (Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey 2010, Prepared by the Newfoundland & Labrador Statistics Agency, Department of Finance). This low participation rate means that there is great opportunity for women!

There are still many barriers to female participation in what has traditionally been the male-dominated construction industry. While women are being trained in trades some are still unable to find employment and despite continued attempts to increase women's participation in trades and technology occupations there is still resistance to female inclusion in the industrial workplace.

According to the Construction Sector Council's report The State of Women in Construction in Canada February 2010, many initiatives have been undertaken over the years to increase women's participation in the construction industry. Research confirms that, while there has been some progress, the industry has not moved the marker forward significantly.

Women represent a large, untapped human resource that can help meet the needs of the projected skills shortage. Like their male counterparts, women just want to have a fulfilling job, an opportunity to utilize and hone the skills they've received through training, to be part of the team, to get the job done on time and on budget, and to be well paid.

Solutions – WRDC Can Help

WRDC can assist contractors in increasing the number of tradeswomen employed. Established in 1997, WRDC is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing the economic equality of women in Newfoundland and Labrador by increasing their participation in high-paying trades and technology occupations that are primarily available in the natural resource sector.

WRDC offers a suite of complementary products and services to assist employers in increasing female participation in their workforce and to help contractors and industry meet their diversity requirements. In fact, WRDC has just developed a new tool entitled, Thinking Forward: A Practical Guide–Increasing Women's Participation in the Industrial Workplace. This "How To" guide has been designed specifically for contractors and sub-contractors. We offer presentations and workshops on this booklet which we can tailor to meet the needs of both large and small operators. Topics include: the business case for equity, recruitment and retention strategies, and how to develop respectful workplaces. We have also developed a set of posters for various industry sectors, including construction entitled "Women Can…," these posters reinforce the fact that women can do the work in non-traditional occupations.

WRDC's intent is to work cooperatively with our stakeholders to ensure that, at this pivotal time in our province's history, our women are included!

Now is the time to make positive and inclusive changes towards creating more diverse workplaces. Together we can positively enhance the lives of both women and men of our province.


For more information on WRDC's programs and services, please contact:
Women In Resource Development Corporation (WRDC)
53 Bond Street, Suite 300, St. John's NL A1C 1S9
(709) 738-3713 • info@wrdc.nf.ca


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