Giving back to the community is as important to J&S Reclaimed Wood as making beautiful handcrafted pieces of furniture. So the Vancouver business has opened its doors to women wanting internships as carpenters.
J&S Reclaimed Wood owners Steve McFarlane and Josh Hooge have connected with Tradeworks, a program that works with women who have barriers to employment. They help participants with life and job skills, and get them internships in the carpentry trade.
“A friend of mine was going through Tradeworks and couldn’t find a comfortable place for her practicum, particularly for carpentry training,” says Steve.
She was going to quit but then asked J&S to host her.
It was at that point that Steve and Josh decided to provide a place for women to receive professional training and develop practical skills in a real shop environment. They host women interns to provide a comfortable environment and equal opportunity in the trade. Many have gone on to careers in woodworking.
Some have even come back to join the J&S team.
J&S was recognized by the Industry Training Authority of BC in 2015 for the support they’ve given women in the Tradeworks program. So far to date they have hosted 13 women.
“The women we’ve hosted here are fantastic to work with,” says Steve. “They’ve demonstrated an amazing attention to detail and an eye for design,”
“They also give lots of forethought to their work and have proven to be very good at multitasking and communication,” says Josh. “Most people think that physical strength is an issue, but with the opportunity to practice and train a bit, a lot of the ladies that have come through our shop are as strong if not stronger than the guys we’ve encountered. It’s always fun to watch the shocked expressions as our girls routinely out lift, out carry and out work guys on the jobsite.”
Both Josh and Steve think it’s much harder for women to get jobs in the trades. As a result, they’re more appreciative when they get a job opportunity.
“Lots of other shops don’t give them the time of day or treat them with respect,” says Josh. “I think they are missing out on a valuable resource to their team.”
The women work on three- or four-week internships. So far, four women have been hired back in the shop after completing the Tradeworks program.