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Paving the way for women in heavy construction

A high-school course offered through the River East Transcona School Division to draw women into heavy construction appears to be leading a number of young, ready workers into new careers, MHCA President Chris Lorenc says.

Lorenc was introduced to some of the 14 students enrolled in the 30-hour Introduction to Heavy Construction for Women course this week, in a virtual session that allowed the women to meet representatives from the partnership that launched the high school course targeting women.

The students in the session were greeted by Cathy Cox, Minister responsible for the Status of Women, as well as RETSD Trustee Peter Kotyk and Carol Paul, Executive Director of the Manitoba Construction Sector Council, as well as The Office to Advance Women Apprentices – Manitoba.

Women make up an estimated 4% of Canada’s 1.2 million construction workers. Women are being recruited to change that and to help push back on a shortage that is seen generally in construction due to an aging workforce.

“I was very impressed with the quality of students enrolled in this course, the first of its kind in Winnipeg,” Lorenc said. “They are dynamic, eager young women who appear very interested in entering the heavy construction field.”

MHCA’s partnership continues the industry’s work and demonstrates its willingness to diversity its work force. It is recognized that women bring different skills and perspective to the male-dominated environment, Lorenc added.

“Heavy construction has not been a part of the high school curriculum despite the industry’s call for new workers, recognizing a skill shortage,” said MCSC’s Paul. “Women are known for taking better care of equipment, listening to directions and paying close attention to details. Balance is needed in the workplace and this initiative is a ground breaking start.”

The course, to be completed March 31, provides basic knowledge, safety training and certificates to prepare the women to enter the industry workforce. The non-credit course is being taught virtually by industry experts and will include site tours and simulator training in the spring as Covid-19 restrictions lift. The goal is to prepare young women for employment when the heavy construction industry starts up in the spring of 2021.

Manitoba Heavy Construction Association was responsible for customizing the course to meet the needs of the school division, locating instructors for delivery and providing certificates upon completion.

The course will conclude March 29 with a virtual career fair, where potential employers will meet the students, in hopes of connecting for future employment opportunities.  

You can view the meeting session here.