Sounds like it’s still a man’s world out there, or at least still a world with too many barriers to employment for women in the LNG and pipeline sector.
In our Nov. 3 Outreach session online, our online speakers opened by listing such barriers:
Paula Smith, program facilitator, Your Place training: “(Among) the issues that come up when we start talking about trades and employment in the construction industry, the major contributor is family obligations, as a wife, as a mother.
“Being away from home on shift-work doesn’t always work. Daycare spots are few and far between. More often than not you have to rely on your family members for support. . . . The home-life balance definitely takes a hit when you are working, . . .
“A third point would be a living wage. Apprentices make only a certain percentage of what a journeyperson receives, so it’s easier to go out and find a labourer job that pays you well than to take an actual apprenticeship. That’s what I find is huge in my (Haisla) community.
“As well, out in the workplace, it could be an unwelcoming work environment. They often face harassment. And from the community perspective I look at alcohol and drug testing and a lack of a driver licence as barriers to employment.”
The major developers such as LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink are publicly committed to equality, inclusion, opportunities for women, and hiring women, and want job sites and work camps that are free of sexual harassment.
But we still hear complaints that some contractors and sub-contractors don’t get the message — or don’t know how to implement and enforce it.
We hear of instances where worksite supervisors have no idea how to handle complaints of harassment, and their employers don’t provide clear anti-harassment policies that are a condition of employment, and don’t provide in-depth training for managers and supervisors.
Thus Bonnie George, community workforce accommodations advisor, Coastal GasLink, told our online audience: “We need to ensure that these contracts with these companies are brushed up on sexual harassment, and to identify even small forms of it, because it does escalate.”
Paula Smith said companies can do more, creating diverse and inclusive workplace cultures, implementing mentoring or job-shadowing programs for females, communicating sexual-harassment policies, and hiring liaison staff to deal with issues on the worksite.
The session heard some good news from Hope Regimbald, Indigenous Relations Advisor, LNG Canada: “As of September, we have 88 Indigenous women working on our project. It makes up about 26% of our Indigenous workforce, and women on our site in general make up 15% of our workforce right now. That’s higher than most construction sites in our country’s history.”
She and other speakers listed training programs of special interest to women. Said Regimbald:
“Your Place is one of the major programs that we offer in order to get women in the trades . . . In addition to that, JFJV has their Bootcamp which specifically holds positions for women and Indigenous women to get them in a trades-training program and a basic entry-level program to help women even decide whether or not trades is the right fit for them. . . .
“We just released the Power Engineering Readiness program that’s going to be offered here in the new year, and that’s going to train about 20 operators in the first cohort. And that’s an opportunity where you can do your upgrading at the same time and get ready.
“We’re going to need a ton of operators in this plant, and this provides the opportunity to have that bridge; you don’t need to have the experience. If you think you might want to work on the LNG Canada facility once it’s in operation, this is a door open to that. . . .
“There are training programs that are offered directly through LNG Canada and then there are programs that are supported by LNG Canada. . . It’s been reflected in the number of women that are joining our project, especially Indigenous women.”
And Mona Anatole of the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association outlined PGNAETA’s Trades and Technology Strategy, which includes Women in Trades training.
You can find out more about that strategy, and PGNAETA’s Indigenous skills and employment training strategy at https://www.pgnaeta.bc.ca/.
And you can see and hear more about our online session here.
(Posted here 10 November 2021)