A Long Standing Push

September 08, 2021

An Inside Higher Ed article explores how colleges are trying to recruit women for training and apprenticeship programs that prepare them for male-dominated fields. However, progress is slower than advocates had hoped.

NSC Managing Director of Government Affairs Katie Spiker, is quoted in this article:

“[Spiker said that] policy changes could also help draw more women into these fields. She co-authored a 2018 report on diversifying apprenticeship programs.

The federal government makes some targeted investments directed at women in skilled trade programs, she noted. For example, she pointed to the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations Act, established in 1992, which enables the U.S. Department of Labor to give funding to nonprofit organizations in certain industries to recruit and retain more women in these fields.

However, Spiker said, there’s been ‘far too little investment’ in apprenticeships and skilled trade training programs at the federal level over all, which contributes to “drastic underinvestment” in strategies to increase women’s access.

She believes subsidized childcare for women in these programs would make a ‘meaningful difference’ for recruitment. She cited Women in Construction, a pre-apprenticeship program in Missouri, as an example. The program is run by Moore Community House, a nonprofit organization focused on economic security for women. The program tripled women’s annual enrollment from 60 to 180 by putting state grant money toward a year of paid childcare. Spiker noted that this level of support is ‘pretty rare,’ however, because it’s expensive to provide.

‘Without some sort of comprehensive federal focus and investment in strategies that help women, people of color, people who don’t have education past high school be able to access the kind of job training and the kinds of supports that they need to access good jobs, there’s not going to be a meaningful shift that’s going to raise the amount of women in these kind of industries,’ she said.”