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March 2, 2016
Last week we talked about the overarching function of the Building Trades of Alberta, which is to work with industry partners to build an environment in which Locals are better able to provide work to their members.
This week, we will be talking about the other end of the equation: helping Locals get more members in order to meet the future labour demands we are working to increase. There are two main routes that the BTA is taking when it comes to attracting new members: working to attract membership from typically under-represented groups such as Aboriginal workers, women and veterans; and working with schools to show students that trades are an excellent career option.
When we talk about attracting under-represented groups into the trades, we do it through partnerships with organizations dedicated to helping people explore and succeed in the trades.
Trade Winds to Success is an organization that was originally created as a partnership between Alberta’s Union Training Trust Fund(s) and willing Aboriginal communities, and functions to provide pre-apprentice training in one of nine trades to Aboriginal students. Further, the program provides the students with required support through their apprenticeship and into their employment.
Build Together: Women of the Building Trades is a national program, initiated by the CBTU, but with an Alberta chapter supported by the BTA. A representative from each of the 16 affiliated trades unions makes up the committee and its role is to promote, support and mentor women in the skilled trades. Given that less than a quarter of the trade certificated in Alberta are held by women, this committee works to ensure that all Alberta women can view the trades as a viable option for a career, moving that ratio up closer to the natural mix of 50/50 men/women.
Helmets to Hardhats focuses of helping Canadian military veterans transitioning back into civilian life and making good use of the valuable skills they learned defending our country by applying them to work in the trades. A recent win by Helmets to Hardhats was the provincial recognition of the DND 404 license, which until recently permitted military personnel to drive large trucks buy was not transferable to civilian life. Holders of the DND 404 are now able to drive commercial vehicles without additional testing, helping them to gain better employment than they might otherwise initially have access to upon retiring from the military.
The BTA also does a lot of work with Alberta schools to encourage young Albertans to explore the trades and to supply schools with materials and support they may need to help students with this exploration. Examples of supports include trade cards packages that were created to help explain what each of the trades are that represent, a poster program that we ran last year to increase awareness and attendance at a variety of teachers’ conventions including Palliser and CCTCA in Calgary, GETCA in Edmonton and the Mighty Peace Teachers Convention in Grande Prairie. In addition to that, the BTA partners with CAREERS: The Next Generation to introduce programming into schools to expose students to the trades and to help them see working in the trades as a positive honorable career choice.
Do you have any ideas for other things that can be done to promote the trades? What do you do? Tell us why you joined the trades and what makes you keep doing this as opposed to looking for other work? It could be your story that motivates a student or someone from an under-represented group to look into becoming a tradesperson.