Breaking Barriers: This Entrepreneur is Redefining and Reshaping the Skilled Trades Industry
There’s been a growing shortage of skilled workers in the areas of HVAC, construction, plumbing, welding, electrical repair, and mechanics. These industries are starting to look at the female population to fill the imminent gap in the labor force. Women are making a big impact in the skilled trades and are playing a role in the reshaping of blue collar America. Women make up 47% of the workforce in the U.S. and currently account for only 6% of apprentices, and less than 3% of female apprentices are in the construction and building trades according to the U.S. Department of Labor. These numbers are simply unacceptable at a time when the construction industry is seeing its highest growth rate since 2005. What can be done to increase representation of women in these trade fields?
Tradeswomen Judaline Cassidy is advocating for increased visibility of women in the construction trades to change the stigma of working in the trades. In 2017, Judaline founded Tools & Tiaras, a nonprofit organization which helps young women enter the fields of construction. Apprenticeships and trades don't carry the same respect in many U.S. households that a college education does. For 23 years Judaline has worked as plumber. She became the first female to be accepted into Plumbers Local 371 Staten Island New York, and currently the only elected female officer in Plumbers Local 1 New York.
At the 2017 MAKERS Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif, Judaline introduced the Women's Building in New York. Bayview Correctional Facility a former women’s prison will be transformed into a global hub for girl’s and women’s rights. Judaline has been featured on Meghan Kelly "She Made It" the series which showcases women who persevere against odds, big and small, until they've "made it" to the top.
How was Tools & Tiaras Inc. conceived?
The Vision of Tools & Tiaras was conceived on the stage, at the 2017 Makers conference. I stated, "When you hand a young girl a tool and a tiara, you're handing her confidence, independence, and power." After that speech, I started developing the business. Part of our initiative is getting girls excited and interested in the Mechanical, Industrial, Technical, and Trades (MITT). Tools & Tiaras Inc. has an all-female board of directors.
How did you get started as a plumber?
I always wanted to be a lawyer. I was unable to go to college because my great-grandmother passed away. The trades was the next best free option so I took advantage of the opportunity. It’s rough sometimes being a woman and woman of color in this industry. But I told myself that no one would steal this opportunity from me. I look forward to one day becoming a foreman.
What type of programs you offer?
We provide monthly workshops for girls. Each of the workshops is led by a woman who has vast experience, strong skills, and techniques in their perspective field. They are all knowledgeable, talented tradeswomen who have the vision to see girls work in different fields of construction including carpentry and plumbing etc. In addition to this, participants learn the history and importance of the trades, and the roles they play in shaping our societies.
Our Construction Skills Day Camp for Girls ages 6-19 will begin July 2018. During camp, girls will learn basic electrical, plumbing, carpentry, auto mechanic and many other skills. All activities are designed for team building. All the girls will receive a hard hat, safety glasses, gloves, and a t-shirt.
“I’m driven to success.” Judaline Cassidy
What has been the greatest challenges in running a non-profit organization?
Getting funding to finance our programs. I’m in the process of hiring a grant writer to write grants for the organization. In the near future, I will be hiring an Executive Director to run the day to day operations. I can’t do everything and be everywhere, I know my strengths. Owning and operating a non-profit is anything but easy. It’s worth it—but definitely not easy.
Who has mentored you throughout this entrepreneurial process?
Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation. She has helped tremendously.
Dr. Corinthia Price is the CEO and Founder of Workforce Career Readiness™. She is an international entrepreneurship advisor and workforce development analyst who specializes in workplace skills and competencies.