On April 5, the Brampton, Ontario campus of Sheridan College opened its new Skilled Trades Centre. The grand opening gathering was also an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Unifor for sponsoring women in trades for the 2016/2017 school year.
Unifor, along with Coca-Cola, contributed a combined amount of $40,000 that would offer a total of 20 scholarships to women in the skilled trades and manufacturing program at the college. To recognize Unifor’s generous contribution, Sheridan dedicated a study room on the second floor of the Centre.
“It was a really nice event to showcase the college and meet with several of the women who were bursary recipients,” said Terry Weymouth, Unifor’s Skilled Trades Education Coordinator, who was at the event to represent the union. “It’s exciting to see first-hand just how our union is making a difference in the education and lives of these women.”
Throughout Canada women are underrepresented in the skilled trades which is often considered a male-dominated field. Weymouth says that only around three per cent of people in the 400 different skilled trades classifications across the country are women and that Unifor has engaged in ongoing work to change this.
“To date, I am really proud that Unifor has done a great job of bringing awareness of skilled trades to women,” said Weymouth. “Next week at the Family Education Centre I’m running a women in skilled trades program for members in the auto industry and these are women who work in production.” Through ongoing education programs the union works to break down barriers and engage women in the trades to get active in the workplace and the union.
In addition to the sponsorship at Sheridan College, in New Brunswick, Unifor contributed to the New Boots: Progressing Women in Trades campaign, a provincial network and resource hub that promotes and supports women in the province pursuing the skilled trades. The union is also active in Halifax, Nova Scotia where it has partnered up - this time for an initiative called Women Unlimited. According to Ian Hutchison, Atlantic Regional Chairperson and President of Unifor Local 601N, the program brings women to the shipyards and gets them in trades.
“For 24 years I’ve been working really hard to promote and support the involvement of women in skilled trade as a viable option for women. There is more to do but this is an incredible start thanks to our union” said Weymouth.