Letters: More than mirror value

Trades employment numbers for females may be misleading

There’s a contradiction in your March 5, 2014 employment projections op-ed, “Spinning employment projections.”

Having said that the traditional participation in trades is 93.4 per cent male you proceed to claim that a 67 per cent participation in the T.A.S.K. trades tryout program “somewhat mirrors the gender gap.” I say that a female participation rate five times as high as traditional is hardly a mere mirror value.

Beware however of statistics. T.A.S.K. is not working in a trade after graduation from high school nor is it a pre-requisite thus participation rate could vary, the 93.4 percent may reflect history to a large extent, and females dropping out to stay home raising children may affect statistics (we’ll see in a few decades if many return to that work).

While it would be very good if more females adopted a trade as a career, I think it is unlikely to get above 50 per cent, for several reasons including religious teachings against females having a physical trade. What matters is that there is no initiation of force against participation, as the Airline Pilots union got government to do after World War II, and that students get good career advice.

Programs such as the trade fair day at CFB Esquimalt, to which Grade 10 students were bussed from as far away as the Cowichan Valley, the “equipment operator for a day” program in Langford, a Camosum teacher’s day showing computers to girls, and the Trades Skills Awareness Knowledge program, are good efforts to expose all students to career options.

Keith Sketchley

Saanich BC