Empower Tools

Tradeworks Training Society is a non-profit that teaches carpentry and helps at-risk youth and inner city women develop useful skills for the growing trades industry in Vancouver, Canada. These marginalized populations often have several barriers to employment, like lack of training and emotional or addiction issues. Unemployment leads people to rely on social assistance programs, Tradeworks Training Society is preparing these groups for steady and fulfilling employment, while providing them with emotional and professional support.

Estimates show that in the next ten years, one in ten jobs in Canada will be trades jobs, and women are underrepresented in the trades industry, as Erin Johnson from the Labor Supply Initiatives told Global BC News in July 2013. Tradeworks began in 1994 primarily as a training program, and by 2008 it began selling the products fabricated by their students. Tradeworks training comprises the “Fabshop”, which focuses on youth, and the “Women’s Workshop.” The society trains about 40 women and 36 youth per year, providing job and networking opportunities to students who complete the programs. The socially responsible organization was first funded federally as a training program, but it is growing and partially sustains itself with the products the students make for other companies and organizations. It made around $500,000 in 2012, with high expectations for the years to come. “There is a long waiting list to enter the program,” explains Executive Director Maninder Dhaliwal. “We have three times more applications than we do spots.” To date, approximately 700 women and between 200 and 400 youth have graduated from Tradeworks, with up to 70 percent finding full-time trade employment afterwards. 

This job-training program is unique; it leads students to develop professionally and emotionally, which can be very empowering. Job training programs can be rigid, without much of a support system between students and teachers, but here, many teachers have gone through the program themselves. The Women’s Workshop program last for 10 weeks—5 spent learning about carpentry in class and about carpentry terminology and the tools used in the workshop, and 5 in a “practicum” stage, where students spend hands-on time in the workshop.

Sadira Abdianna, a current student at Tradeworks, is in the practicum stage. “The core of my being has changed so much; it has been a painful growth and I have learned a lot emotionally,” she says. “There is always someone willing to help and teach me something new, and I want to learn as much as I can.” Before becoming a student at Tradeworks, Sadira worked in the service industry under her aunt, which she describes as a job that wasn’t getting her anywhere. “I wanted to be useful, and the trades are useful,” she says.

Maninder Dhaliwal joined Tradeworks in January. With a background in engineering and experience in the non-profit sector, Dhaliwal describes her passion for this organization in relation to her own life. “As a person of color and a female engineer, I’ve always been an outsider and I still am,” she says. “And I believe that people should have an opportunity to make a change if they want to.” Dhaliwal believes that people should be judged by what they do, not by their past or their sex.

Traditionally, women have been excluded from the carpentry trade, Dhaliwal explains, but now, there is not a real reason for this, as machinery and tools make carpentry and construction a lot simpler than before. She acknowledges that the greatest challenge is not being able to help everyone; everyone who applies has a need, but the program is so personal that students must fit the criteria. But, she adds, the program is going through a lot of changes, and there is still a lot of work to do.

Tradeworks helps students with childcare, transportation costs, and even fees like buying tools when beginning a new job. The program is a personal one, and every student has her own story. Unlike other job training programs, Tradeworks provides a strong support system and a personalized professional development experience. 

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Empower Tools

Tradeworks Training Society is a non-profit that teaches carpentry and helps at-risk youth and inner city women develop useful skills for the growing trades industry in Vancouver, Canada. These marginalized populations often have several barriers to employment, like lack of training and emotional or addiction issues. Unemployment leads people to rely on social assistance programs, Tradeworks Training Society is preparing these groups for steady and fulfilling employment, while providing them with emotional and professional support.

Estimates show that in the next ten years, one in ten jobs in Canada will be trades jobs, and women are underrepresented in the trades industry, as Erin Johnson from the Labor Supply Initiatives told Global BC News in July 2013. Tradeworks began in 1994 primarily as a training program, and by 2008 it began selling the products fabricated by their students. Tradeworks training comprises the “Fabshop”, which focuses on youth, and the “Women’s Workshop.” The society trains about 40 women and 36 youth per year, providing job and networking opportunities to students who complete the programs. The socially responsible organization was first funded federally as a training program, but it is growing and partially sustains itself with the products the students make for other companies and organizations. It made around $500,000 in 2012, with high expectations for the years to come. “There is a long waiting list to enter the program,” explains Executive Director Maninder Dhaliwal. “We have three times more applications than we do spots.” To date, approximately 700 women and between 200 and 400 youth have graduated from Tradeworks, with up to 70 percent finding full-time trade employment afterwards. 

This job-training program is unique; it leads students to develop professionally and emotionally, which can be very empowering. Job training programs can be rigid, without much of a support system between students and teachers, but here, many teachers have gone through the program themselves. The Women’s Workshop program last for 10 weeks—5 spent learning about carpentry in class and about carpentry terminology and the tools used in the workshop, and 5 in a “practicum” stage, where students spend hands-on time in the workshop.

Sadira Abdianna, a current student at Tradeworks, is in the practicum stage. “The core of my being has changed so much; it has been a painful growth and I have learned a lot emotionally,” she says. “There is always someone willing to help and teach me something new, and I want to learn as much as I can.” Before becoming a student at Tradeworks, Sadira worked in the service industry under her aunt, which she describes as a job that wasn’t getting her anywhere. “I wanted to be useful, and the trades are useful,” she says.

Maninder Dhaliwal joined Tradeworks in January. With a background in engineering and experience in the non-profit sector, Dhaliwal describes her passion for this organization in relation to her own life. “As a person of color and a female engineer, I’ve always been an outsider and I still am,” she says. “And I believe that people should have an opportunity to make a change if they want to.” Dhaliwal believes that people should be judged by what they do, not by their past or their sex.

Traditionally, women have been excluded from the carpentry trade, Dhaliwal explains, but now, there is not a real reason for this, as machinery and tools make carpentry and construction a lot simpler than before. She acknowledges that the greatest challenge is not being able to help everyone; everyone who applies has a need, but the program is so personal that students must fit the criteria. But, she adds, the program is going through a lot of changes, and there is still a lot of work to do.

Tradeworks helps students with childcare, transportation costs, and even fees like buying tools when beginning a new job. The program is a personal one, and every student has her own story. Unlike other job training programs, Tradeworks provides a strong support system and a personalized professional development experience. 

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