Gender Equality in Trades

Trade HERizons Participant 2017
Tash Doucette, 2017 Trade HERizons Participant
Jenna MacNeill was born and raised in Charlottetown, PEI. She graduated from Bluefield High School is 2009. Jenna has experience in Customer Service / Communication, Manufacturing / Labour and Construction / Carpentry. She graduated from Trade HERizons in 2016 and is currently a student in Holland College’s Heritage Retrofit Carpentry program. Jenna is a confident, creative young woman who enjoys helping others. In her free time, she volunteers with Women’s Network PEI, sharing her experiences and supporting other women in their career and personal development.

Women's Network PEI (WNPEI) is a small non-profit social justice organization that was founded in 1981. WNPEI works to strengthen and support community efforts to improve the status of women in our society.

In 2009, the province of Prince Edward Island, through the Interministerial Women's Secretariat  and the Office of Apprenticeship, partnered with WNPEI  to develop Trade HERizons. The goal of Trade HERizons is to increase the number of women in the trades and industrial technology sectors.

It also support women to move out of poverty using non-traditional jobs for women as the vehicle.

Trade HERizons introduces women to careers in trades and industrial technology. Participants develop essential skills and get the tools and confidence to change their lives.

WNPEI offered Trade HERizons for the first time in January 2010. It has been successful every year since. WNPEI works to increase the number of women in trades by:

  • increasing the supply of tradeswomen
    • Trade HERizons program, navigation support, wrap-around etc.
  • increasing the demand for tradeswomen
    • through our work with employer partners on the SITE (Supporting Island Trades Employers) project.

In 2012, WNPEI did a needs assessment on Employment and Gender Gaps in Trades and Technology on PEI called Bricks & Mortar. The report identified:

  • benefits of having women working in non-traditional trades and technology
  • barriers to women's recruitment and retention in trades and technology
  • potential solutions to increasing women's participation in these occupations

There is a strong business case for hiring women in trades and industrial technology. On PEI, employers say that people leaving the province for work is their greatest labour market challenge. We know that women don't leave in the same numbers as men. This creates an opportunity for both employers and women. Additionally, there are other factors:

  1. Labour Shortage Solution: Women are the largest untapped human resource in the trades sector
  2. Broader Talent Base: Industries facing labour market shortages must hire from the widest talent pool
  3. Increased Innovation Capacity: Diversity in the workforce generates innovative and creative solutions
  4. Expanded Market Influence: Women influence 80% of consumer purchases in Canada and retain ownership in 47% of Canada's 1.6 million small and medium sized businesses
  5. Greater Return on Human Resource Investment: It costs four times as much to recruit new employees as it does to provide the best conditions for job satisfaction to existing employees
  6. Stronger Financial Performance: Companies with a gender balance are known to have higher profits
  7. Increased National Growth: The World Economic Forum reports a link between women's success and a nation's long term growth.

WNPEI worked with Grace Lore, a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of British Colombia, to find out about the long-term impacts of our work with women in trades and industrial technology. The results are astonishing:

  • Before Trade HERizons was created, it would have taken 276 years to reach gender equality in trades and industrial technology on PEI.
  • After seven years of Trade HERizons, WNPEI lowered that number to 45 years.

Women's Network PEI is grateful for the support of our funding partners, Status of Women Canada and the PEI Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning. WNPEI also appreciates the outstanding work done by Holland College, our Trade HERizons mentors, our trades employer partners and all the women who commit to Trade HERizons and transform their lives.

Media Release

Quick Facts

Bricks & Mortar - Building a Community Response to Employment and Gender Gaps in Trades and Technology on PEI 

Trade HERizons Cost-Benefit Analysis

Project Status

Trade HERizons career exploration and college prep program started in 2010. Over the years the program courses have been offered in a number of different ways and lengths of time. Courses are free to eligible participants. Currently, the program is part of our Women's Economic Empowerment (WEE) programming.