For the women who come to Tradeworks Training Society, being offered a chance to transform their lives fosters real hope in the future. Many are exiting the sex trade industry or have overcome substance abuse.
Others lack education or are single mothers with limited opportunities to develop new skills while taking care of children. But coming to Tradeworks, they are offered the opportunity to start a new life and career in the trades.
“Half of what we do is provide skills necessary to succeed in the labour market, but the other half is building self-esteem,” says Steven Johnston, Executive Director of Tradeworks. “The women in our program need to feel like they have the confidence and skills to compete with men in the trades world.”
Tradeworks provides a 10 week training and personal development program that gives 48 women a year the opportunity to re-engage with the workforce by supplying them with basic training to re-enter the job force or apply to professional carpentry programs.
Tradeworks has been a key community partner of Central City Foundation over the past decade. CCF donors have provided funding for the tools that help women build a career in carpentry. In 2007, CCF donors funded the purchase of a professional engraver for society’s social enterprise, Tradeworks Custom Wood Products. The engraver led to sales doubling within a fews years and CCF donors funded a second engraver in 2011 to help Tradeworks keep up with demand.
“The impact of this purchase of tools and equipment can’t be understated,” says Johnston. “We could not have done this without the support from Central City Foundation.”
This past year, CCF donors stepped up again to help Tradeworks grow by funding a 2,000 square-foot workshop space complete with state-of-the-art professional woodworking equipment for their Women’s Workshop Training program.
Tia Hass is a single mother who learned about the Women’s Workshop when she was laid off her service industry job. She completed the entry level program and is now in the middle of a four-year apprenticeship alongside the master carpenters at Tradeworks.
For Tia, it was the feeling of security that gave her the confidence to excel in carpentry.
“I was so relieved to know that I would be taken care of and that there was a plan in place,” says Tia.
There is great potential for women in the trades in British Columbia’s booming building sector. It’s predicted that by 2023 there will be 26,000 unoccupied construction jobs, which means women who enter the trades will have lots of job opportunities and the potential to earn a high income.
After completing her apprenticeship, Tia hopes to start her own renovation company that employs female carpenters, especially graduates from the Women’s Workshop program, to build sustainable houses.
“Now I’m on top of the world, I feel great and my opportunities feel endless,” says Tia.