Why Not Women in Construction?

The construction industry is one of the most male-dominated industries in the world. Roughly 9% of the construction trade is made up of women. If this wasn’t already an extreme divide, 8% of the 9% of women in construction are in secretary or administrative roles. Only 1% of construction laborers are women.

Head Start to the Construction Trades, a program run by Inland Northwest AGC Apprenticeship, is changing the stereotype and reality that the construction trade is for men only. We had the pleasure of speaking with program manager Mike Ankey who told us about the wonderful work they are doing to train women in this field. We are proud to support Head Start to the Construction Trades as one of our 2018-2019 grant recipient programs.

The program is made up of classes offered to single mothers or low income women who are interested in the construction trade. The class runs six hours a day for six weeks, and teaches women the following each week: Introduction to the construction industry, obtaining a flagger card, forklift certification, OSHA 10 Certification (industry safety certification), first aid/CPR certification, basic automotive maintenance (oil changes, tire changes, jump starting a vehicle), and use of hand and power tools.

Throughout the class, these women get hands on training to gain real world experience in the construction trades. They’ve worked on projects like installing drywall, building a garden shed, and building a community food bank for a local church.

At the end of the program, they are able to tour job sites and apprenticeship programs in the Spokane area and are aided in job placement. They are given assistance in resume writing and interview skills and are provided  the tools they need to be employment ready. The program is focused on building bonds and providing a support network between the women in the class.

Within the last year, Head Start has trained thirteen women and seven have gone on to be employed. In addition, three of those seven women have been accepted into a Skilled Trade Apprenticeship Program. Employment has helped many of these women secure vehicles and permanent housing. Head Start is committed to these women, even after graduation, for years to come. This is the kind of sustainability that support programs with high success rates have in our community.

The program has changed the lives of many women, and here are just a few of the many stories that Head Start has helped make a reality:

A woman obtained a position at Exotic Metals in Spokane after graduating from the class. She wrote to the HCT Grant Administrator and said, “I chose to apply for HCT because jobs I’ve had in the past just haven’t amounted to good pay or benefits. This last year I battled breast cancer. It was a huge eye opener. I saw the flyer for the women’s class. I knew automatically this was the place I needed to be. This would change my life. Today as a sit in class with 14 amazing women I know this is one of the best decisions of my life. I know from this point forward I will have skills and knowledge of construction that could open so many doors in my future. I am beyond thankful for this amazing opportunity to better my life.”

Another women is now employed with UPS after the program. She shares how the program helped her below:

“I decided to join the construction class so I could get some knowledge about the construction world. And get a good reliable job that I know will pay my bills and provide for my family in the long run. I wanted to know I would have good medical benefits if I need them and know that when it’s time to retire I can be financially comfortable. The class has helped me learn not only hands on experience but also class knowledge for my OSHA card, financial awareness, automotive experience, and I was also able to obtain my CPR/first aid certification, my flaggers card and forklift certification. I’m super excited about that because I want to be a heavy equipment operator in the future.”

To view upcoming classes, visit: https://headstarttoconstruction.org/upcoming-classes

Heather Hamlin

Heather

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