Providing Research and Technical Assistance to Union Construction Partners on Recruiting and Retaining Tradeswomen
This gallery contains 4 photos.
Since PGTI and the Building Trades Unions began partnering with staff in Massachusetts Vocational Technical High Schools to ensure greater access and support for young women in construction-related education programs, the percent of females in these programs has steadily increased. … Continue reading
The latest data on the participation of underrepresented groups in union registered apprenticeship shows continued progress in diversifying our union labor workforce.
From 2021 to date, the percentage of women in apprenticeship has increased steadily every year, with 10.30% women’s participation in union apprenticeship programs as of August 2021.
Women now comprise 10% of all union building trade apprentices in Massachusetts. This is among the highest figures in the country, tripling the national average and representing a two-fold increase since 2012.
“Reaching 10% women in apprenticeships is a huge accomplishment,” said Liz Skidmore, PGTI co-convener, and Business Representative and Organizer with the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. “It represents amazing progress in increasing the supply of diverse tradespeople here in MA. Meeting this milestone right now, in the midst of the pandemic, shows that we not only recruited new women but also retained female apprentices during this incredibly challenging time.”
Across Massachusetts, women like Angela Lormeus, now an apprentice with Carpenters Local 339, started their apprenticeships in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She cites Tradeswomen Tuesday as her jumping-off point to an exciting new career. Before joining the Carpenters union, Angela did not have much experience in the trades; her background was in early childhood education. She was interested in applying to the Carpenters apprenticeship, but not sure how to navigate the career shift. After learning more at a Tradeswomen Tuesday, Angela decided to go for it. She applied for, and was accepted into, the Carpenters apprenticeship program.
“I am grateful to be employed during COVID, and I hope to seize the opportunities sent my way to learn my trade and become a well-rounded Carpenter,” Angela said.
“We are exceedingly proud of the strides we have made towards gender equity in the workforce here in Boston,” said Brian Doherty of MetroBTC. “10% is a great start, but there is still work to do. The building trades that have provided for so many Boston families over the years should be accessible to all. We need to maximize the opportunities for women and people of color to start family-sustaining careers in the building trades.”
Seasons Greetings and A Gift of Data from PGTI
We’re doing it, comrades. The latest data report on Massachusetts women in apprenticeship should give PGTI allies and advocates something to smile about this holiday season.
In August 2020, PGTI published a call to action on our blog, urging our industry partners to stay steadfast and vigilant in the pursuit of tradeswomen retention throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically, during an economic downturn, women are the first to be let go on construction job sites. When construction work dwindled during the 2008 recession, many women apprentices were left in the lurch; the industry wasn’t keeping them working so they left the trades for other jobs that could pay the bills.
Fortunately, that hasn’t happened this time. Thanks to the deliberate efforts of PGTI’s contractor and labor partners, the percentage of women in Massachusetts union apprenticeship is higher than ever. With 9.8% women in Massachusetts union apprenticeship programs, we have successfully retained our women apprentices throughout the tribulations of 2020. Even though the total number of apprentices in MA has dropped, we’ve actually seen an increase this year in the overall percentage of women in union apprenticeship. From 2013-2020, the percent of women in Massachusetts joint union apprenticeship programs has increased every year and despite the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, our steady progress remains unwavering.
How did we do it?
PGTI is a multi-stakeholder collaboration composed of contractors, unions, government entities, apprenticeship programs, tradespeople, and community groups working to develop, document and implement best practices to recruit and retain women in trade careers.
The PGTI model of integrated supply and demand asserts that getting and keeping women in the trades is more complicated than just training and apprenticeship (the supply side). To thrive in trade careers, women also need access to jobs and continuous employment (the demand side). This model requires commitment from stakeholders in multiple standpoints, and thus, we convene our multi-stakeholder collaboration on a bi-monthly basis and encourage members to “lead from where you are”, that is, for individuals to work within their sphere of influence to advance to shared goals.
PGTI has encouraged the establishment of Access and Opportunity (workforce diversity monitoring) Committees by end users on Targeted Projects worth over 6.5 billion dollars. In tandem with other best practices designed to create demand for diverse workers, such as Project Labor Agreements, our targeted projects have been key drivers of the demand for tradeswomen in MA.
In addition, PGTI has supported the participation of women in Pre-Apprenticeship programs across the state of MA, and launched the Build A Life That Works tradeswomen outreach campaign in partnership with the Metro Building Trades Council, The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and other partners.
In 2016, PGTI set the goal of 20% tradeswomen by 2020. As the nationwide percentage of women in apprenticeship was under 3% at that time, we hoped the lofty 20% target would spur progress after years of minimal progress under more moderate goals. This goal and our hashtag #20percentby2020 have been adopted by tradeswomen groups and advocates across the US, and have become a rallying cry for PGTI partners in our pursuit of tradeswomen’s equity.
As we close out 2020 with 9.8% of women in apprenticeship statewide, we are proud to have made it halfway to the Mount Everest goal of 20% by 2020. Halfway up Everest is quite an achievement. We offer sincere gratitude to all who have contributed to this mission, even when it wasn’t easy. The collective power of PGTI has moved mountains. We took on 2020’s retention challenge together, and we won. Imagine what is in store for the next decade as we move to our new rallying cry, #20percentnow.
PUBLIC SECTOR OWNERS IN MASSACHUSETTS: 6.9% women’s participation in the construction workforce is the law.
“All contracts by a state agency or state-assisted contracts for design, construction, reconstruction, installation, demolition, maintenance or repair must contain workforce participation goals for minorities and women. The goals are 6.9% of workforce hours for women and 15.3% for minorities.”
“Awarding authorities are reminded that state contracts and state-aided contracts must also include the processes and procedures to ensure compliance with statutory Workforce Participation Goals, including reporting and enforcement provisions, for women and minorities. G.L. c. 149, § 44A(2)(G).”
Most awarding authorities have remained ignorant of gender diversity requirements and thousands- or more- of women have been excluded from opportunities for good jobs in the construction trades since passage of the 1998 law that required the Commonwealth to “develop and implement …a comprehensive plan to eliminate discrimination against and to increase the number of female construction workers at state construction projects.”
We have provided Technical Assistance to industry stakeholders for over a decade, most recently through the Office of the Inspector General. Email us if you would like to discuss customized TA for an awarding authority or contractors.