Sturgeon Refinery construction welcomes seven new graduates from Women Building Futures

New female carpenter/scaffolding apprentices were welcomed to the construction crew of the Sturgeon Refinery on September 19. Image: Jordhana Rempel/JWN

Seven female carpenter/scaffolding apprentices are joining the 6,000-strong peak construction workforce at the Sturgeon Refinery near Edmonton.

They were recognized at a press conference on September 19 by North West Redwater Partnership (NWR), Women Building Futures (WBF) and the Alberta Carpenter Training Fund.

WBF has been operating since 1998 as a dedicated program that focuses on helping women pursue careers in trades.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Labour Christina Gray said she was honoured to “recognize the strength and determination of women and their contributions to our province and the economy.”

She continued by saying, “We know that when we expand our talent pool, we build an even more skilled and resistant workforce. That’s why it’s so important for our government and for Albertans to continue working together and support training programs like this.”

The chief executive officer of WBF, JudyLynn Archer, addressed the wage gap and how this program helps to narrow that gap. The average Canadian woman earns $32,000 per year working full time, she said, but that “the women [graduating] today have experienced an average increase in income of 231 per cent.

“This level of redeployment from underemployed to fantastically employed is exactly what we need to be doing,” she said.

WBF first joined with NWR in late 2015 to welcome the first class of 11 female ironworkers, which increased the number of female ironworkers in Alberta by 13 per cent.

WBF is expecting another full class to begin training in November.

The Sturgeon Refinery is targeted for start-up in the fourth quarter of 2017.