The Hamilton YWCA says women are underrepresented in traditionally male-dominated careers like construction and manufacturing — but now it has a hefty government cheque to try and change that.

On Friday, parliamentary secretary for Status of Women Canada Susan Truppe announced the YWCA will receive just over $240,000 for a three-year project that will advance recruitment and retention of women in those industries.

This type of project is even more significant because of the imminent skill shortages facing Canada, says Truppe.

Susan Truppe at Hamilton YWCA on Jan. 24, 2014

Susan Truppe, parliamentary secretary for Status of Women Canada, announces funding support for Hamilton YWCA project to advance the recruitment and retention of women in construction and manufacturing industries. (Sola DaSilva)

“There is going to be a skill shortage and we think that women have a great opportunity to able to fill those roles and they are certainly talented and skilled enough,” Truppe said. “This is important because of Hamilton being a bit of an industrial city … so Hamilton is an ideal place to do this project. These jobs are out there and are very well-paying and that’s why we want to see more women — so there are better opportunities for women to prosper.”

The funding will go towards outreach, planning and strategies to help women in Hamilton join the trades, says Denise Doyle, the chief executive officer of Hamilton YWCA.

“We already know that we have to look to women, Aboriginals and new immigrants when we think about where our workers are going to come from in the next ten to 15 years. Employers today are investing in strategies in order to be more effective in those recruiting processes,” Doyle said. “We hope that our work over the next three years is going to not only engage with women who want to enter those trades but also engage with the employers and help them bring women into their organizations.”

According to a report released by the Conference Board of Canada in Oct. 2013, many Hamilton employers report skill shortages. A survey of 1,538 Ontario employers (about 4 per cent of which were from Hamilton) showed the highest shortages were in the engineering and infrastructure fields, followed by the energy and utilities industries and the manufacturing and automotive industries.

Recruiting women to these occupations, many of which are high paying, will provide an opportunity for women to leave low paying or minimum wage jobs for unionized employment.

“The one thing that I can assure you of is that this program is going to be run by strong women leaders and the men involved will encourage the young women who are coming up to negotiate more than a living wage and an equal wage,” Doyle said.