How Women Can Access Skilled Trades Careers

Female trades student practicing on electric switchboard


Right now, women only make up about 5% of the skilled trades workforce. But with a growing need for tradespeople, views of women in the trades are changing. Today, there are many ways for women to access these kinds of careers and a growing number of initiatives encouraging young women to enter the skilled trades.  

The result: More women than ever are picking up their toolbelts and pursuing a career in the skilled trades, traditionally a male-dominated space.  

Filling A Need

In 2022, job vacancies in the skilled trades reached all-time highs and it’s likely this trend is only going to continue. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of people enrolled in apprenticeships dropped – in some industries by as much as 10%! Contributing to this growing labour shortage is the fact that many of today’s tradespeople are retiring. 

The good news: Most people who enter skilled trades training right now will be able to get a job once they finish their education.  

Young Women’s Initiatives in the Trades

Women have always been underrepresented in the trades. But with a need for more workers and a changing view of gender in the workplace, they’re being encouraged to explore these unique and rewarding careers. 

Groups like Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen (OBCT), founded in 2019, actively advocate for women in skilled trades by creating support systems – like their mental health training for Ontario tradeswomen – inside these still male-dominated industries.  

Organizations like Skills Canada and its partner organization Skills Ontario are encouraging women to join the skilled trades through a variety of young women’s initiatives, like skilled trade days designed to show young girls and teens relevant career opportunities.  

These organizations also hold young women’s conferences each year, like the annual Skills Ontario Competition, where attendees can hear stories from successful tradeswomen, ask questions, and take part in interactive workshops that highlight different trades. 

They also have a Women in Trades Resource Hub to help girls and youth explore different resources, pathways, and support options in that sector.  

Then there’s Supporting Women in Trades, an organization that advocates for women in the skilled trades by partnering with companies to ensure there is equity in these male-dominated spaces.  

More Pathways to the Trades

If young women in Ontario are interested in going straight into a skilled trade, they can start their training as early as grade 11. 

If they’re not quite ready, Ontario colleges currently offer pre-apprenticeship programs in high-demand trades. These programs let young women (and men) get their feet wet in the skilled trades and gain an edge if they choose to apply for an apprenticeship afterwards. 

To start your journey into the skilled trades, check out our college programs search tool