About Women Building Futures

Women Building Futures PipingEstablished in 1998, Women Building Futures is a leader in trades training for women, with extensive experience recruiting women into the heavy industrial workforce at a consistent employment placement rate of 90 per cent.  A Social Purpose Organization (SPO) and registered charity, WBF is valued for its uncompromising approach to meeting the needs of women and industry by recruiting the right people and providing them with the right training.  Employers and women trust WBF’s methodology.

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Workforce Attraction: positioning construction as a first-choice career option for women; and positioning women as a viable source of quality skilled workers for Alberta’s construction sector
  • Assessment and Essential Skills Training; helping women make an informed career decision about a career in trades and address gaps in essential skills 
  • Workforce Training: preparing women for success through skills training, safety certification, Workplace Culture Awareness©, fitness and academic upgrading
  • Workforce Coaching: coaching is available to all WBF students and alumni to support training retention and long term employment success
  • Job Retention: job search and retention support is available to all WBF students and alumni to assist with securing and retaining apprenticeships and employment.

Our Vision: Women Building Futures is valued for empowering women to succeed in non traditional careers, inspiring positive economic change for women and forever transforming the face of industry in Canada.

Our Mission: Economic prosperity for women through assessment, training, job placement and job retention support.

Our Clients: Women Building Futures advocates to and recruits ‘any woman anywhere’ who is highly motivated to explore/enter/retain a career in trades, with a view to:

  • Encourage women to enter apprenticeships and careers in non-traditional trades and occupations.
  • Connect women directly to apprenticeship and employment opportunities in non-traditional trades.
  • Support apprenticeship completion and job retention for women in non-traditional apprenticeships.
  • Grow the number of tradeswomen mentors.
  • Engage WBF alumni in supporting WBF’s growth.
  • Undertake pre-trades training with Women Building Futures.
  • Examine and address systemic barriers to the recruitment, training and retention of women entering and in trades;
  • Increase the number of tradeswomen instructors and mentors.

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Our History

Women Building Futures (WBF) became registered as a non-profit society in 1998. It was a small group of women - social workers mostly - who set out to fulfill their shared dream of helping women achieve economic prosperity through trades training and mentorship.

Working out of an office space ‘borrowed’ from the City of Edmonton, WBF focused on securing small grants to run a series of three-week classes on carpentry.

As the organization continued to grow, an Executive Director was hired and WBF signed a three-year lease on a 4,000 square foot basement on 112th Street and Jasper Avenue. It was at this new location, renovated into a training center, that the WBF assessment process to help women determine their readiness and ‘fit’ with a career in the trades began to take shape. The design and delivery of a 14- week pre-trades program focusing on carpentry, plumbing and electrical was actualized, and as a result, the construction industry began to take notice.

WBF Women Building Futures BuildingIn December 2005 WBF purchased an old warehouse located at 10326 107 Street in downtown Edmonton, with the intention of retrofitting it into a training and affordable housing facility. Experience to this point had proven that many women cannot afford to pay market rent and go to school at the same time, especially single mothers. By adding affordable housing, WBF became much more accessible to those the founders originally set out to help.

By April 2006 the move to 107 Street was complete and WBF procured the funds to hire an architect to design a versatile building that would entail everything WBF envisioned (i.e., housing, training facilities, classrooms and offices).

November of that same year marked the beginning of a challenging two-year period where both student training and renovations of the old warehouse took place. Staff set up a camp behind the warehouse where classes could take place without interruption from the renovations. Regardless of adversity, the program was now 17-weeks long and included introduction to six trades - carpentry, plumbing, electrical, steamfitting/pipefitting, welding and sheet metal. The graduate success rate continued to climb and all staff stayed on board during this period; a true display of the tenacity that makes WBF a success.

The WBF Housing Facility and Suncor Energy Training Centre officially opened in June, 2008.  This facility, the first of its kind in Canada, was made possible by many partners including Suncor Energy Inc., Clark Builders, Acklands Grainger, Shell Canada Limited, Western Economic Diversification CanadaAlberta Municipal Affairs (Canada-Alberta Affordable Housing Program), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Alberta Lottery Fund, the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Housing Trust Fund.  For a full list of organizations and individuals that contributed to the WBF Capital Campaign, please view our Annual Reports.

In 2010 WBF established an Aboriginal Engagement Strategy to increase the participation of Aboriginal women in WBF programs.  By 2012 the Aboriginal student population at WBF had grown from 19 per cent to 27 per cent.  Between 2010 and 2012 WBF achieved several milestones:

  • WBF Women Building FuturesOver 8,000 women were contacted.
  • Over 3,900 women participated in the Women Building Futures Career Assessment Program (Awareness Program and/or Career Decision Making Program), of which over 1,400 were Aboriginal women.
  • 291 students graduated of which 70 were Aboriginal women.
  • Over 170 employers employed Women Building Futures graduates.
  • WBF graduates found employment at a consistent rate of 90% or greater.

WBF has grown from a small, grassroots group who dreamed of getting women out of poverty to a visionary organization that has the capacity to do all that and more.