About Women Building Futures
Women Building Futures is a registered, not-for-profit, charitable organization that works to help women build better lives and achieve economic independence through training, employment and mentorship. Our graduates make excellent trades people, and through them we give companies new competencies and new work resources.
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 security through assessment, training, job placement and job retention support.
Our Mandate is to:
- Attract more women into the construction trades;
- Provide trades training that meets the needs of women and the industry;
- Provide mentorship and long-term support for women entering and in the trades;
- 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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Women Building Futures - 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.
In December 2005, WBF purchased an old warehouse on 107 Street 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, 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/fitting, electrical, boilermaking, 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.
In 2007, the City of Edmonton began a two-year project to follow one group of WBF graduates to analyze the Social Return on Investment (SROI) for every dollar invested. When the results were published in 2009 they showed that for every dollar invested in WBF there was a six dollar return.
June 2008 signaled the official opening of the WBF Suncor Energy Training Center. The student employment success rate was now consistently 90% or greater.
In 2009, WBF added the Heavy Equipment Operator Program in partnership with Olds College.
By the time 2010 rolled around, WBF furthered its reach to women who could benefit from the organization by establishing an Aboriginal Engagement Strategy to increase the participation of Aboriginal women in WBF programs. 2010 was a year that saw industry support for the organization rise exponentially.
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. WBF is now a market-driven organization, recognized as the ‘go to’ place for women who are serious about getting into the trades, and for construction companies that need great tradespeople.
WBF has a direct and proven connection into the female market and an ability to consistently provide Alberta’s construction sector with apprentice-ready individuals who are able and eager to work hard learning their trade.