The Saskatchewan Office to Advance Women Apprentices opened its doors to women in trades in May 2019 and quickly had its first success story with the support of a true ally: the Boilermakers’ Local 555. The local helped one woman apprentice, and the office, meet this milestone quickly and has been involved in diversifying the workforce in Saskatchewan ever since.
Shylah Nokusis, project coordinator at the office, says the office has been able to build great relationships in the community – from employers to training providers – and she found a real supporter of women in the Boilermakers Local 555.
“After assisting a newly registered tradeswoman learn about the unions, she decided on applying with Boilermakers. I reached out directly to their staff, and after talking about her struggle to find work, they asked her to apply,” Shylah says.
That tradeswoman was welder Tracy Fedorowich, and within a week she was working in a mine in Saskatchewan.
Joining the union has helped jumpstart Tracy’s career. She says the union sees the potential in her and the people there have encouraged her to succeed in her career. As a member, she’s been able to travel for work and make a good living she couldn’t in another field.
“I couldn’t believe how quick they were to give an opportunity like that,” Shylah says. “I was beyond impressed and (Tracy) was incredibly grateful.”
A Natural Partnership
The Boilermakers’ Local 555 has a long history of advocating for the trades, having been chartered in 1954. Its members work in the construction and maintenance of nearly every heavy industry in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and northwestern Ontario. Members hold various qualifications from Red Seals in Boilermaking, Welding, Steel Fabrication, and more. All three offices of the union are equipped with welding booths and training facilities which are used by the members to upgrade their skills and learn about new advancements.
The organizations’ mandate speaks directly to the inclusion of women in trades, making it a natural partnership for the office.
Kelly Houston, business representative for the Boilermakers Local 555 in Saskatchewan, says the local was impressed with Tracey and was grateful the office discovered her. Houston says this is just the beginning of a long relationship with the office.
“The office has proven to us that it’s a reliable, secure, and convenient method for us to expand our membership with good capable people,” Houston says. “Shylah is excellent at keeping us updated on what is current … and we plan on utilizing both her and the office’s services in the future as a reliable avenue to diversify our Local with competent, quality personnel.”
Invested and Inviting
“Not only have they encouraged their own tradeswomen to register with us, they consistently recommended other women to register with our office, if they were looking to get into the trades. Their staff are always very involved in our networking events, attending when they can, making prize donations or encouraging their members to attend and support us,” Shylah says. “They have consistently given women the opportunity to learn about their union, the trades within their hall, and welcomed all interested tradeswomen to apply.”
Are you interested in getting to know or hiring the skilled tradeswomen supported by the Office to Advance Women Apprentices? Want to partner with us to drive diversity in the construction trades in Saskatchewan? Get in touch and let’s discuss how the Office to Advance Women Apprentices can help your company or organization succeed.