The MHCA is making diversification of the heavy construction workforce a higher priority, announcing the appointment of Jackie Jones as its first Diversity Advisor.
“Our numerous efforts through the years to attract, train and recruit individuals that have not traditionally been part of our workforce are working and we want to build on that,” said MHCA President Chris Lorenc.
“Jackie Jones is one of our most capable, versatile employees and has been doing a lot of work in the area of diversity. This formalizes her role and allows her to develop the programs, partnerships and initiatives to make greater inroads with under-represented communities.”
Jones, who has served as MHCA’s Education and Training Advisor, becomes Education and Diversity Programs Advisor. Prior to joining MHCA in 2014, she worked at Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health assisting enforcement officers in the interpretation of WSH Act and regulations. Jones, certified in Adult and Continuing Education, sits on the Manitoba Common Ground Alliance Executive Board.
The MHCA, with partner organizations, has led introductory and training programs in Indigenous communities for years. More recently, it has worked with two Winnipeg school divisions to offer introduction to heavy construction courses, one of which just saw 10 women graduate with certificates. Further, a high school credit course has been developed in concert with Southeast Collegiate, which MHCA hopes will be launched once pandemic restrictions are removed.
“I’m very excited to be coordinating these and similar programs and initiatives to reach into those communities and make contact with individuals who haven’t really looked at heavy construction as a career path to now,” Jones said.
Jones said Phil McDaniel, MHCA Senior Safety Advisor & Indigenous Engagement Leader, has done really good work with other organizations, such as the Manitoba Metis Federation and the University College of the North, to bring training to Indigenous communities and groups, providing a strong foundation on which to further build diversity efforts.
The MHCA is in the process of building a website landing page for workforce diversity, where resources and news will be posted to assist both employers and individuals from under-represented groups looking for information on inclusion and career potential.
“We want to showcase not just materials that illustrate the good careers available, but also let the diverse range of individuals within our workforce speak for themselves, share experiences and talk about their lives in heavy construction,” Lorenc said.
MHCA Chair Nicole Chabot and former Chair Colleen Munro have been featured widely in the media speaking to the career opportunities and the need to recruit from diverse communities.
“If you don’t see it, you can’t be it,” Chabot said. “It can be very intimidating to be, for example, the only and maybe the first woman on a particular job site. The more we reach out and show our industry is a welcoming employer, the more successful we are at diversifying the workforce.”