New code aims to increase number of women working in B.C. construction industry

Goal is to have 10% of skilled trade jobs held by women by 2028

The Landing condo development is seen under construction in Langley, B.C., on Monday December 10, 2018. The British Columbia government and an industry association are backing a new code to reduce harassment, bullying and hazing to encourage more women to pursue careers in construction. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

The British Columbia government and an industry association are backing a new code that aims to reduce harassment, bullying and hazing to encourage more women to pursue construction careers.

The province and the BC Construction Association say the Building Code includes the goal of having 10 per cent of skilled trade jobs held by women by 2028, which the association says would be a first for a Canadian province.

READ MORE: Skilled worker shortage hangs over B.C. industrial growth

To reach that goal, another 9,500 women would have to join the workforce.

The announcement on International Women’s Day is also supported by other agencies including the Industry Training Authority, WorkSafeBC, the BC Construction Safety Alliance and the company LNG Canada.

The code widens the safety definition to include stress or distraction caused by discrimination, bullying, hazing or harassment.

It gives employers tools and training to promote safe behaviour.

The association says it is also trying to retain women in the workforce at a time when the province is suffering from a shortage of skilled workers.

Andy Calitz, CEO of LNG Canada, says the company is committed to supporting equity and diversity.

“Our support of the builders code will help the province grow and retain its skilled labour pool,” he said in a statement Friday.

“We look forward to working with contractors and suppliers whose commitment to safety and diversity matches our own.”

The association says B.C. faces a skills shortage of 7,900 workers. Women make up only 4.7 per cent of trades in the industry.

It says women and other under-represented groups are seeking trades at a higher rate than in the past, but retention rates are low with anecdotal estimates indicating that less than 50 per cent of women continue apprenticeships after the first year. The retention rate for men in the first year is estimated at 70 per cent.

The Canadian Press

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