Successful First Cohort of CAF-FCA National Leadership Development Program

January 18, 2023

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) has successfully completed the pilot for the new National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades and could not be more thrilled with the results.

The National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades was developed in partnership with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices (the Office) and is available to all tradeswomen including Indigenous peoples, LGBTQ2S+ individuals, immigrants, persons with disabilities, and those from racialized groups. The pilot program was completed in December of 2022 and, due to the overwhelming success, is scheduled to begin the second cohort in February 2023. CAF-FCA has gathered insights from those involved in the program, to share with the skilled trades community a reflection of the growth that the dedicated participants in this first cohort experienced.

The pilot program saw 14 participants successfully earn a certificate for completing the course and CAF-FCA could not be happier with the results. Participants fully committed to the program. The tradeswomen were genuine, sincere, and thoughtful. They shared their experiences with honesty, did the work to reflect upon their leadership styles and identified areas for improvement. Participants were empowered by the conversations with their peers and tradeswomen coaches and now are committed to helping other equity priority groups succeed in the trades and advance their own careers.

These participants truly showed the value of fully engaging in the material and the importance of building community. “I want to say thank you. Thank you for putting this course on and helping me find myself again. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and I am so happy I was selected to be a part of this, it came at the absolute best time in my life. You have helped me regain my confidence, I am back to enjoying my trade and back to feeling like me again.,” shared one National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades Participant

Participants were guided by subject matter experts to learn effective strategies and gain practical tips to empower them as leaders in their workplaces and the broader community. Participants noted that they appreciated the special attention that was paid to how the learning can be applied within the skilled trades.

One participant stated the following about the impact the courses had on her approach to leadership: “Thank you. This course was fantastic, and I have benefited so much. I head into 2023 with a strong base of leadership skills to build from. I highly recommend this course for any tradesperson looking to develop themselves and help others along the way. The work that CAF-FCA has put into this is so appreciated and has made an enormous difference in my life and career.”

The program focused on improving knowledge about strategies to mentor, take on leadership roles on the job site and within their unions, communicate, resolve conflict, and speak with confidence. With these enhanced skills, tradeswomen can be leaders in their field and make a positive difference for other tradespeople in their community, as noted by one of the participants: “Thank you for selecting me as a participant of this the inaugural cohort of the

Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s National Women’s Leadership Development Program. I am truly grateful for the chance to reflect on what this program has meant for me both professionally and personally. It came to me at the perfect time in my life and I am a better tradesperson for having met my cohort and our talented facilitators and studied this incredibly valuable material. I am so eager to show you all what I am capable of, what I can build for myself, and how I can serve others with the skills and techniques I have developed these past months.”

Not only have the individuals involved in the program been positively impacted by the experience, but industry will also benefit through empowered and qualified women leaders. The participants are already pursing additional programs, and two have enrolled in higher education.

One participant has received a promotion since completing the program, while another wants to organize a confidence building workshop for women in her union. This dedication to further growth and development, along with a commitment to assisting with the development of their peers, can only have a positive impact on the industries in which the participants work.

It is the hope of CAF-FCA and the Office that this impact will continue to grow and will reach all sectors and regions over time.

“Even with this first cohort and the engagement and success so far, it is evident that given the correct tools and support for growth and leadership, women will positively impact change and advancement in the trades sector. As women leaders embrace equity, diversity and inclusion, their leadership style will influence how apprentices act on-the-job, leading to more supportive and safe workplaces for all employees”

Karen Walsh, Project Consultant, Office to Advance Women Apprentices.

France Daviault, Executive Director of CAF-FCA, believes that this program is only the beginning of additional development supports that will help bridge the leadership equity gap.

“The goal of this program and other future programs being considered by CAF-FCA, is to support a pathway to leadership opportunities within the skilled trades. When there is equitable decision making and inclusive leadership in a place of work, recruitment, retention, and productivity are positively impacted.”

The National Leadership Development Program for Women in the Skilled Trades is offered at no cost to tradeswomen and offered in a safe and respectful setting. CAF-FCA and the Office to Advance Women Apprentices are working with industry, trades unions, government, and training institutions to support development and administration costs.

The next cohort is set to start on February 13, 2023, and information to apply for the September 2023 cohort will be released in the coming months.


Women are marginalized in skilled trades workplaces and experience barriers. Female apprentices report more difficulty finding employer sponsors and have lower apprenticeship completion rates than males (Prism, 2021). As a result, non-completing women cannot access the high paying, full-time and leadership position work associated with certification in the trades. A positive work environment and support from peers are key to program retention but in the absence of these women apprentices report poorer mental health than male apprentices (CAF-FCA, 2020) contributing to a lack of confidence and sense of isolation. Many women apprentices and journeypersons have limited access to leadership training or development opportunities for self-advocacy, public speaking, conflict resolution and mentoring.

For more information, visit or contact France Daviault:

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