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.