Resources for Reaching & Recruiting Women to Apprenticeship

Recruiting women to trades apprenticeships isn’t difficult, but it takes planning and persistence.  If you haven’t had to actively engage in outreach or recruitment activities in the past, you’ll learn quickly that this work isn’t complex, but it does take targeted and sustained efforts.  There is an old marketing adage that states the average person needs to hear a message seven times before they will buy a new product.  That’s also true of outreach campaigns – the average woman will require sustained, repeated exposure to messaging about your job or training opportunity before she’ll respond.

The below resources are organized for users into four sections.  In the first section, you’ll learn to better understand the barriers that have prevented women from entering trades apprenticeships in the past.  Section two describes the process of setting recruitment goals and developing an effective outreach plan.

In the third section, you’ll find sample plans, tools, and recruitment materials that you can utilize in your outreach work.  The final section describes proven techniques for orienting women to trades apprenticeship opportunities.

Introduction to Registered Apprenticeship for Women

pdf-icon[Download PDF] Understanding Barriers to Reaching and Recruiting Women to Trades Apprenticeships
In order to successfully reach out to women and help them become trades apprentices, it’s important to first get a grasp on the barriers that prevent women from entering apprenticeship. Work that specifically addresses these barriers will result in more effective outreach and increased numbers of women entering trades apprenticeships.

Barrier 1: Women are (typically) less prepared for entry level trades jobs than men, so they are seen as less competitive applicants for apprenticeship.

  • Girls are less likely to benefit from fathers’ trades knowledge than boys;
  • Girls and women are less likely to receive CTE training such as shop class in high school and community college; and
  • Women’s prior work experiences tend to be less physical than jobs typically held by men.

Barrier 2: Society’s stereotypes about construction trades careers prevent women (and some men) from seeking out employment in the trades.

  • The persistent myth that working in the trades requires extreme physical strength (rather than physical fitness), combined with the expectation that women are weaker than men discourages women from applying to apprenticeship; and
  • The equally problematic perception of work in the trades as being low quality, undesirable work with low pay prevents women from being interested in the industry.
Barrier 3: Women aren’t told about trades job and apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Official sources such as career counselors, school guidance counselors, and one-stop shops don’t steer women towards job opportunities in the trades; and
  • Unofficial sources – referrals by and career guidance from fathers/brothers/in-laws (the F.B.I. network) are directed to male friends and family members, meaning these job opportunities are hidden from women.
Barrier 4: Trades jobs aren’t marketed to women, so they don’t know that these careers are for them.
  • Job advertisements depicting trades workers rarely feature women, so women assume that the jobs are not meant for them; and
  • Women are not directly invited to apply for jobs by trades employers.

Barrier 5: Apprenticeship program requirements are not transparent and can be confusing for an inexperienced person navigating their way through the apprenticeship application process.

  • Information on apprenticeship opportunities and openings is limited and not advertised in the same places as many other job opportunities, and application cycles don’t normally resemble that of traditional work;
  • A clear description of the skills and experience required to successfully apply is not always available, and sometimes there are “hidden” requirements; and
  • It can be confusing for a person who does not have a friend or family member familiar with apprenticeship to guide them through the application process.
pdf-icon[Download PDF] Setting Recruitment Goals and Making an Outreach Plan
Effective outreach has a few key elements. Using realistic, inspiring images of women and girls working and learning in the trades is critical to making them feel welcome and confident that they can succeed. Marketing efforts should dispel myths about the value of trades careers and who can become a successful trades worker. The most effective outreach and recruitment plans will have clear next steps for women to take if they want to learn more or apply to a training program, job, or class. Patience and perseverance is key: Your desired audience needs to see the message multiple times in order to respond.

1) Set a recruitment goal. How many women or girls do you want to recruit for what positions or classes? Be specific about numbers. “We want 20% of our new Pipefitter apprentices to be female, so that means we need to accept 8 qualified women.”

2) Draft and approve a budget for outreach work. Your budget should provide for career fair booth fees, advertising costs, and if necessary, compensating female role models for their time spent doing outreach work. Include costs for printed materials, social media work, and creating promotional videos or photos of women or girls in your industry and classes.

3) Determine who else in your organization needs to be involved – financial managers, admissions or program outreach staff, and important female role models in your industry, for example. It can help to create an Outreach Team if your organization is new to active recruitment.

4) Design an outreach plan that includes creating outreach materials, describes how you will reach your audience, identifies key events to recruit women, and incorporates women from your industry, classes or training programs to represent you.

5) Plan the outreach materials featuring images of women will you use to recruit women and girls. What material and messages, either paper or web-based, would you design to promote your training or job opportunity to women?

6) Think about how and where women will view your outreach materials. Where will you send brochures and flyers? Which partners will share your social media messages and mailings? Where would women view your advertisements?

  • Try schools, community colleges, public transit, libraries, Head Start centers, and churches or other faith communities. Make sure that One-Stop shops know you are looking to recruit women.
  • Follow up with your partner organizations to ask them to share your social media posts.

7) Use recruitment events to target potential female applicants. Are there career fairs, school nights for high school students, lunch-time presentations, apprenticeship contests, assemblies, community events, parent nights or other activities that you could participate in?

8) Employ women from your classes and trades occupations in outreach roles – ask them to serve as role models for potential female applicants. Ask your female apprentices or tradeswomen to represent your program at recruitment events. Feature women working in your trade or participating in CTE classes in images, videos, and other visual outreach materials.

9) Create informational materials that describe the next steps a woman would take to apply to your class or training program. Share those materials at outreach events and women who respond to your advertisements. These materials should address the intermediate steps she should take if she is interested in your program, for example: Who she should talk to, a recruitment or orientation event she should attend, a website to view, a short class to take or application to fill out.

10) Make visible to women the path they would take to develop their skills and/or qualify for desirable positions. Create an FAQ sheet for women who want to know more about how to be competitive for your program or other opportunity. It should address these questions:

  • What are the ways new people enter your industry or classes?
  • Are there entry-level positions?
  • Are there short classes women/girls could try out without making a huge time commitment?
  • What are the rung-by-rung career ladders to reach skilled technical (and highly paid) positions?
pdf-icon[Download PDF] Tools for Orienting Women to Apprenticeship
Orientation sessions held a few times a year are an ideal way to introduce people unfamiliar with apprenticeship to the opportunity. Orientation helps to clearly explain requirements of apprenticeship and provide basic information about apprenticeship opportunities in the region. They also provide a great opportunity to dispel myths about the work, counter negative stereotypes, and inspire women to see the great possibilities afforded by a career in the trades.

For training providers, orientation sessions are a good way to measure the effectiveness of outreach efforts. These sessions also help to filter out potential applicants that don’t meet basic requirements to qualify. Orientation is also a helpful way to collect contact information from women that are interested in being notified when apprenticeships open. It also presents an opportunity to give women a clear understanding of the next steps they need to take in order to be a competitive applicant.

Introduction to Registered Apprenticeship Video for Women

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