CWB Welding Foundation Sparks Success with Women of Steel™: Forging Forward Initiative

Woman of Steel participant welding a T joint in the horizontal position using the Shielded Metal Arc welding process.

Milton, ON  – The CWB (Canadian Welding Bureau) Welding Foundation is excited to launch “Women of Steel: Forging Forward Program” The program provides learning opportunities that foster education, personal growth, confidence, and experiential learning for women interested in exploring welding and other welding-related skilled trades careers. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Adult Learning Literacy and Essential Skills – Women’s Employment Readiness Program with a $4 million federal contribution, this allows the Foundation to expand its Women of Steel Program, first introduced in April 2019. The new program targets anyone who identifies as a woman and/or non-binary, including those from racialized or marginalized groups such as Indigenous, Black, newcomers, LGBTQ2S, women with disabilities, or with a prolonged detachment from the labour force.

The program will be delivered over 64 weeks from June 2022 to August 2023, across Canada. “The Women of Steel: Forging Forward Program aims to increase the number of women in welding and joining, fabrication and other skilled trades. It will provide welding training and support for women with sustainable career options while increasing their economic security.” said Susan Crowley, Executive Director, CWB Welding Foundation. “Women in the program will benefit from wrap around supports such as childcare, transportation, mental health, wellness supports, cultural competencies, employment preparation and counseling sessions.”

This pre-employment program includes practical theory, hands-on welding training, and skills development in a safe and supportive environment, with a flexible schedule to balance responsibilities. Short training periods will be used to train the participants in several welding processes, with the ability to obtain up to eight CWB welding qualifications in various positions with multiple processes making graduates ready for apprenticeship, post-secondary, and employment. The program features a Workplace Inclusivity Program that will help improve access, retention, and the advancement of women in welding, fabrication, and other professions. Employers are a key partner in this project from start to finish and will be involved in all aspects of the program. As well, a mentorship program will be designed to support women at all stages in their careers.  A social media campaign strategy highlighting Women of Steel Ambassadors will raise awareness of this initiative, increase networking opportunities from early through advanced career stages, while breaking down barriers and reducing the stigma attached to STEM and skilled trades careers.

As more skilled tradespeople are looking to retire, the pending gap continues to grow, and opportunities for a career in the industry are countless. Welding, and welding fabrication provides a gateway to skilled trades and other related professions, and offers a well-paying, stable career choice with many options for women.

The CWB Welding Foundation would like to thank the Government of Canada for their continued generous support as they have been instrumental since the launch of the Women of Steel initiative in 2019.

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About the CWB Welding Foundation

The CWB Welding Foundation is a national registered charity that relies on the support of industry and community organizations to address the welding skilled trade shortage in Canada. Through education-based programs and initiatives, we continue to reduce barriers that affect key groups; elementary, secondary, and post-secondary students and educators, Indigenous People, women, and the underrepresented. We envision a future where all individuals are encouraged and provided the support needed to reach their true potential in a career in welding regardless of identity factors, social and financial status, and lived experiences including gender, age, ethnicity, language, literacy, culture, income, and geographical location.

This project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Adult Learning Literacy and Essential Skills – Women’s Employment Readiness Program.

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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.