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Labor Department Announces Grants to Encourage More Women in the Trades

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Women in Construction

Labor Department Announces Grants to Encourage More Women in the Trades

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced $5 million in grants for community organizations working to draw more women into trade apprenticeship programs

April 21, 2023
Woman electrician at work on jobsite
Image: auremar / stock.adobe.com

Although women account for half of the workforce, only about 14% of registered apprentices are women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. To address that imbalance, the Labor Department is boosting its efforts to increase the number of women in the trades. On April 14, it announced $5 million in grants aimed at attracting and supporting women in registered apprenticeship programs, largely in construction, manufacturing, and cybersecurity, Construction Dive reports in an interview with Wendy Chun-Hoon, director of the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau. The $5 million represents a significant increase from past grant cycles, in which Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grants were usually around $250,000 to $1 million.

Wendy Chun-Hoon: ... I think the very common story is, you’ve got to see it to be it, and there aren’t enough women in these jobs. So, a big part of the first step is to make sure that women know that these jobs are available to them, and here’s the pathway to get into them.

We’ve heard other stories about similar barriers to entry. One common barrier is childcare. A lot of these women have talked about how hard it is to make that pivot to a career while they have young kids to care for. So, I should specifically mention that up to 25% of the WANTO grant to the community-based organization is funding or investing in supportive services. Those supportive services can address all the barriers to entry: tools and equipment, last mile transportation, access to training programs and access to childcare. 

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