Labor and Economic Opportunity
Tuesday, March 9, 2021
LANSING, Mich.- A third-year union carpenter apprentice, Karmyn Valentine, 40 of Pompeii, Michigan, took a passion for forestry, residential masonry and furniture making, and turned it into a career in a good-paying, high-demand Professional Trade.
"Initially, carpentry was just sort of a hobby for me but with training, I was able to turn my hobby into a career," Karmyn Valentine, union carpenter apprentice said. "After getting into a nationally recognized building trades program, I fell in love with carpentry. And it turns out, I'm really good at it."
Gov. Whitmer has called to lower both the gender parity and skills gap, and March 7-13, 2021 as Women in Construction Week in Michigan, aims to do just that by highlighting Professional Trade career opportunities and recognizing women as a valuable asset to the construction industry, capable of succeeding in a male-dominated industry.
"This Women in Construction Week, I want to reaffirm my administration's commitment to pursuing equity and expanding opportunity for women in the workplace," said Governor Whitmer. "There are so many incredible women building critical infrastructure including roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools statewide. We will continue our efforts to close the gender parity and skills gap in construction and empower women across every industry in Michigan."
Women however, only account for roughly 9% of the construction industry, a virtually untapped source of high-demand, good-paying jobs. Despite being a male-dominated industry, the gender pay gap is much narrower. Women in the U.S. on average make 81% of what men make, compared to 99.1% in construction fields.
"I would encourage more women to get involved in some sort of a pre-apprenticeship program like ones offered through Women in Skilled Trades in Lansing," Valentine said. "An apprenticeship will help give women some skills before they get to the job site - investing in their own education is a priority to be successful."
Highlighting the state's vast pipeline of opportunities is a focus of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), which aims to put skilled talent in more than 530,000 Professional Trades careers expected to be available by 2028.
"We want women to know they have a place in the Professional Trades," LEO Acting Director Susan Corbin said. "We are working to create opportunities that prioritize equity for all, and careers in construction is a great example of an industry where women can thrive alongside their male counterparts."
Women in the industry help solve real-world problems businesses face in supporting their bottom line, ultimately allowing Michigan to remain competitive.
"Women in Construction Week highlights the incredible women who are working all over the state to build the hospitals we need, the schools our kids attend and the office buildings where we work," Tom Lutz, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights said. "We are committed to growing the number of women in the industry through apprenticeship readiness programs and partnerships with community organizations. We hope more women take advantage of opportunities in the skilled trades like our apprenticeship program, which will pay you to learn the skills you need to build the world we live in."
Construction jobs in Michigan are expected to grow 6.1%, and increase to 180,000 positions by 2028, according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.
"People in general see that women have the ability to do the job and want to do it," Valentine said. "Employers are looking for people who can do the work, have experience or the willingness to learn - it's not gender specific."
"You don't have to fit into a certain box to work in construction - you can be a petite woman like myself," she adds.
For more information about careers with Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, text FUTURE to 855-424-2562 or visit hammer9.com.
For more information on Women in Construction week, visit NAWIC.org.
View the Women in Construction week video to learn about the industry.
Women looking to find their high-wage career in construction or other Professional Trades can get started at Going-PRO.com.