Data Processor to Stone Mason

Data Processor to Stone Mason

Dagmar Scriver

According to the Federal Government, by the year 2020, there will be an anticipated severe shortage of over one million skilled workers in the construction industry creating a desperate need to replenish its workforce within the next ten years.

Presently, 47 per cent of the entire labour force is made up of women, most working in part-time and low-paying jobs. It is the single largest labour pool for the trades that is being overlooked by many, including women.

Although there are over 65,000 workers involved in residential construction only five per cent of them are female and less than ten per cent are involved in the overall trades and technology industry.

One of those workers who has broken through the barrier is local mason apprentice, Dagmar Scriver of Tiverton, who has been working on restoration projects for the past six years

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"I was a data processor in the insurance industry," explains Scriver, "when I started helping my husband, Tom, who is a mason. I felt such an immense sense of creative satisfaction that I knew I did not want to ever return to an office environment."

Although it often means working in daunting weather conditions, Scriver points out that, "I have never been healthier or happier than I am now working out of doors." The Scrivers make up one of the 90 per cent of residential construction companies that have less than five employees and Dagmar Scriver is one of only five per cent of women who are involved. "It starts right in school," points out Scriver. "The school system has not promoted the trades over the past several years and working in construction was always looked at as something you did if you couldn't go to university. It was tough for boys when it came to stereotyping let alone for girls."

Today, that situation is beginning to turn around with the recent announcement by the provincial government of a new scholarship initiative where 1500 student will received $1000 each to return to school and enter the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). Currently, there are 19,000 Ontario students participating in the program and an additional $1.25 million is being invested in OYAP along with Apprentice Tax Credits for participating employers.

When it comes to the trades, the numbers for women are bleak. For instance, only 0.5 per cent are boilermakers, one per cent are involved in the logging industry and only five per cent overall are in trade related occupations. "Hopefully, those numbers will change," points out Scriver, "as women realize they can do the work, that it is satisfying and that they can make a good living with monetary rewards."