On behalf of the officers, executive board and staff of Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, I am proud to mark Women in Construction Week, as well as today’s International Women’s Day.

As the Business Manager of a Union with more than 19,000 members, I have been aware for many years the need to attract more women to the skilled trades if Ontario is to keep growing, and it’s truly inspiring to witness the increasing presence of women in the construction industry, especially within our specific trade. This trend is particularly significant as we anticipate potential shortages moving forward.

According to a report by PRISM Economics and Analysis, IUOE retirements are projected to rise by 13% over the next 5 years, exceeding 280 retirements per year by 2027. Approximately one-fifth (21%) of active members are age 55 and over and are eligible or will be eligible to retire in the next ten years.

With approximately 18.4 million women and girls comprising half (50.6%) of Canada’s population, tapping into this demographic presents a clear opportunity for recruiting future Operating Engineers.

In December, I sent a delegation of six female members to Washington, D.C. to join more than 4,000 other tradeswomen at the annual Trades Women Build Nations (TWBN) Conference. It was an opportunity for them to meet women from other regions of North America, share their experiences, be inspired and return home with a renewed sense of determination to build their careers and become mentors for other women who wish to follow in their footsteps.

Despite all the progress that has been made by the construction industry in recent years, we recognize that much more needs to be done to secure full equality for women and a future where everyone – regardless of gender, race or class – has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

I urge you to take a moment to watch the Local 793 video below and hear directly from some of our female members on how becoming a member of Local 793 has helped transform their lives.

Mike Gallagher
IUOE Local 793 Business Manager