SheBuilds Combines Skilled Trades And Affordable Housing

Moncton, NB, Canada / 91.9 The Bend

SheBuilds Combines Skilled Trades And Affordable Housing

Chrissy Guitard(left) and Donna Ferguson, SheBuilds Communities for Life (Photo: submitted)

A new initiative is helping attract women to skilled trades.

Owner of SheBuilds Communities For Life Donna Ferguson says it began as an idea just over a year ag as she examined the shortcomings in society, “We have been looking at a couple of areas, the shortcomings that we have, both in  the construction industry and in society in general.  The first one being a shortage of people in skilled trades and the second one,  affordable housing which is very prominent especially during COVID.  We were looking at how we could maybe combine those two  and find a workable solution.”

SheBuilds Communities For Life partnered with several groups including NBCC to facilitate a 14 week carpentry course that launched on Tuesday with eight women, “We used one of the New Boots STEPW programs, which is a skilled training exploratory program.  When they partnered with us to be the employer at the end of the that course,  they helped with the recruitment, and they had 150 applications for their STEPW program.  From there we selected the women who we thought would fit with our company culture,” Ferguson says.

The women receive training, and are given a lot of shop time, using tools  they may have never used before.  It gives the women a foundation for what goes on at a job site.

Ferguson says one of the reasons, women choose not to get into the skilled trades is fear.  She says they are unsure of the unknown, how they will be treated on the job site and in their role, “We thought, well, let’s turn this on its head a little bit, and let’s create a female construction company, which became SheBuilds.  I am at the point in my career,  as others are,  that we want to build with purpose.”

Women who go through this 14 week course, after they complete it, they follow it with the apprenticeship program.

“They will work on a site for 1300 hours, and then they will go back into the community college system for 6 to 8 weeks and then at the end of that they will write their block one.  They will do that for the next four years.  At the end of the apprenticeship they can become a red seal carpenter,” Ferguson says.

Project Coordinator Chrissy Guitard says, “We just went live to the public on social media in January and the response was overwhelming with other women who want to join the next course.  We already have a waiting list.  We just want to make sure we have work lined up for all of the women who are going through this training process.  If it all goes well, we are thinking that we hope to host the next course next winter.  If successful this is something that could be take into other municipalities, wherever there is an NBCC.  Affordable housing is something that is needed in every community.”

Guitard says to get more information, or if you want to work with SheBuilds, you can follow them on Facebook, “If there is a course, we will notify them.  Once construction starts in May, there may be an opportunity for volunteers as well, for people who want to learn the trade.”