The construction industry has not slowed down, despite being in the midst of a global pandemic, and that means apprenticeship-readiness training programs, such as Oregon Tradeswomen’s, remain in high demand. Construction offers women a career with wages and benefits that can support their families and is a pathway to the middle class.
Our nonprofit provides career education, hands-on training and employment readiness skills for women to succeed in the skilled construction trades—at no charge to jobseekers. We can do this through a strong development team and the individuals and industry partners who believe in our work and support our mission. Our Pathways to Success Pre-Apprenticeship Class relaunched on September 18 as a hybrid model in response to Covid-19 with online teaching and smaller groups for critical hands-on training.
With Covid-19, we had to shift our training model to support new health and safety guidelines while continuing to support recent graduates in job placement and retention. Because of social distancing and other preventative measures, we were challenged in how to replicate team building, a support network that is typically a natural outcome of the class bonding, and the dynamics of a jobsite. A support network is essential to women in the construction industry and we are working to re-create that in a virtual model.
We feel that many of the changes in our training and recruitment methods have been positive and plan to continue them in the future. In 2019, through a partnership with OSU and Oregon Labor and Industries, Oregon Tradeswomen provided technical assistance as subject matter experts to develop online apprenticeship-readiness training. This is a huge opportunity to expand access for rural communities, families caring for children and others who typically have access challenges to in-person training.
An online presence means jobseekers can turn in homework online and complete the modules on their own schedule. Having the ability to create more access for jobseekers through these online modules gives us one more tool in our arsenal to recruit women for a career in the trades. We likely will also do more virtual sessions in the future, which will help jobseekers in areas outside of Portland get the training and support they need to have a successful career in the skilled trades.
There is high demand for our program, and we cannot serve all the women who apply, but we are continually looking for ways to expand our capacity to serve more women. To invest in changing lives, please consider donating to Oregon Tradeswomen https://tradeswomen.net/.
Kelly Kupcak is the executive director of Oregon Tradeswomen and has almost two decades as an advocate for tradeswomen. She believes economic equity for women and BIPOC are critical to building strong women, families, and communities.
Oregon Tradeswomen promotes success for women in the trades through education, leadership, and mentorship. We were founded in 1989 on the principles that women deserve and can attain economic self-sufficiency by pursuing careers in the construction, manufacturing, mechanical, and utility trades while helping and encouraging the trades industry to build a diverse workforce. For more information on our programs, visit https://tradeswomen.net/.