New NAIT program to bring more women-identifying individuals to construction, energy and manufacturing trades

Published on May 15, 2024

The need for skilled workers in the construction, energy and manufacturing sectors presents an opportunity for women-identifying individuals. NAIT is poised to support women-identifying apprenticeship students to pursue a career in these fields through a project funded in part by a $2.6-million investment from the Government of Canada’s Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy under the Women in the Skilled Trades Initiative

Women Leading and Building Canada’s Future is a multi-year project aimed at supporting women-identifying students as they pursue an apprenticeship training in one of the 21 construction, energy and manufacturing Red Seal trades NAIT offers. The Red Seal is recognized across Canada and internationally. 

Through the Women Leading and Building Canada’s Future program, NAIT will: 

  • provide financial academic support to help offset education, living and career costs such as childcare, transportation, housing, tools and personal protective equipment. Applications for financial academic support are now open and will remain open year-round. 
  • host networking and conference events to help facilitate learning opportunities and to connect students with mentors and members of industry.  
  • enhance NAIT's equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) efforts through staff training and the development of an EDI curriculum for trades-based programs. 
  • provide workplace EDI training for employers, in partnership with Women Building Futures. The training program is expected to be available by Fall 2024. 

Recruiting more women-identifying individuals into trades-based careers represent one of the solutions in addressing the skilled-labour shortage. Currently, women account for only 5% of workers in the most in-demand trades. The Women Leading and Building Canada’s Future program presents an opportunity for both the Canadian economy and for underrepresented individuals to pursue a career in a field that can lead to financial stability and independence.  

The Red Seal is a recognized standard of excellence for skilled trades in Canada. It demonstrates that an individual has the competencies and skills required to work in a specific trade across Canada and internationally.  


"We are building an economy that is fair for all Canadians. Through this investment in the Women in Skilled Trades Initiative, more women will bring their talent to the skilled trades and embark on rewarding careers that will build our housing supply and strengthen our economy.”- Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages 

“NAIT, a proud leader in delivering skilled trades education, is committed to empowering women-identifying individuals with meaningful career paths in skilled trades. We are grateful to Employment and Social Development Canada for their support, which is vital in enriching our programs and classrooms with inclusion and diversity. The Women Leading and Building Canada’s Future program supports our dedication to building a skilled workforce that reflects our vibrant community and meets industry’s needs.” - Laura Jo Gunter, president & CEO, NAIT 

“NAIT is excited to welcome more women-identifying apprentices through this wonderful program, and to support these folks through their educational journey. The skilled trades are a viable pathway for folks who are looking for a career that's going to lead them to be successful. We’re proud of the safe, inclusive learning environment NAIT works hard to foster for students of all backgrounds where they’ll learn the relevant, practical skills they need to successfully begin a career in the skilled trades.” - Matt Lindberg, dean of the School of Skilled Trades, NAIT 

“As a woman working in the skilled trades since 2004, I know first-hand that anyone can have a successful career in these fields when they are supported and empowered to pursue their dreams. NAIT's Women Building and Leading Canada’s Future program will help do just that. The funding will help alleviate financial burdens, and the events will allow students to build strong networks as they navigate their training and careers. I’m proud to be part of this great work and am excited to welcome more women-identifying folks into our classrooms and throughout the workforce.” - Laurel Tokuda, department head, Electrical Installations, NAIT 

“At Women Building Futures, our mission is economic security for women. True economic security is only possible when we address the barriers women and gender-diverse people face in the workforce. That includes being able to be themselves and feeling welcome, valued and a sense of belonging. We are excited about the work we'll do in partnership with NAIT and industry to set new standards for workforce inclusion.” - Carol Moen, President and CEO, Women Building Futures 



  • The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum predicts Alberta will need 26,000 new journeypersons and 51,000 new apprentices in the top 15 Red Seal trades by 2026 to meet industry demand. 
  • Women make up 7.9% of all Red Seal apprentices currently at NAIT.  
  • The NAIT Red Seal programs with the highest percentage of women are Cabinetmaker, Insulator, Welder, Steamfitter/Pipefitter, Instrumentation and Carpenter.  
  • As a leader in skills trades education and training, NAIT plays an important role in educating and empowering women-identifying individuals to pursue careers in the skilled trades industry. 
  • The apprenticeship model, which allows students to attend NAIT for 8 to 12 weeks at a time before returning to the workplace to gain the required on-the-job hours, provides more flexibility as learners work their way towards a journeyperson ticket. 
  • NAIT has an apprenticeship coordinator dedicated to supporting women-identifying individuals wanting to pursue a career in the skilled trades. 
  • NAIT offers several pathways into a skilled trades career including pre-employment upskilling and certificate, trades diploma, apprenticeships and trades-to-degree programs.  
  • NAIT is dedicated to ensuring the skilled trades programs are a safe and inclusive learning environment for people of all gender identities, backgrounds and abilities.  

About NAIT

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and skilled trades. With over 34,000 credit and non-credit students and a 98 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads help fuel the economic engine of the province. NAIT also contributes to Alberta's prosperity by helping businesses and communities become more competitive through industry-driven research and corporate training. Recognized as one of Alberta's top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, industry partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.

Media inquiries

Nicole Graham
NAIT Media Relations
C 780.916.8307 E

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