The Iron Workers' apprenticeship offers one of the only opportunities in construction for women to earn as they learn with no pay gap.
The Iron Workers don't mess around when it comes to making sure all ironworkers earn a good wage. This comes as good news for women in the construction industry. According to recent data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in their The Status of Women in the States: 2015 report, the gender pay gap between men and women who work in construction is narrower than the national average across industries. The group estimates the gap to be nearly nonexistent, with women earning 95 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn. That’s good news for women looking to get into the construction industry.
However, Iron Worker members earn the same across the board based on training, regardless of gender.
“Ironworkers are key to infrastructure and play a huge part in the construction industry, regardless of gender,” says Iron Workers General President Walter Wise. “They build the offices we work in, the bridges we cross, the stadiums we cheer in and just about every structure we see when we scan the skylines of our favorite cities.”
A separate report from the American Community Survey from 2013 (the most recent year data was available) places the gap a little wider, estimating that women who work in construction make about 83 percent of what their male colleagues make. Still, that’s closer to even than the widely recognized workforce average of women earning 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.
The Iron Workers and the Ironworker Management Progressive Action Trust (IMPACT), the Iron Workers’ labor-management arm, are working to get more women working in the construction industry through their comprehensive apprenticeship program.
Combining on-the-job training with classroom teaching, the program recruits, trains and delivers the best and safest ironworkers in the world. The programs are offered at more than 150 locations across the U.S. and Canada and boasts more than 1,500 highly-trained, female ironworkers each year. 450 of those female ironworkers are currently apprentices.
“Our program offers men and women wanting to join the building and construction industry the chance for good, fair wages with benefits while they learn. The program plays an important role in the growth and development of a safe and productive workforce,” says Lee Worley, the Iron Workers executive director of apprenticeship and training. “Our program consistently recruits, trains and delivers the best and safest ironworkers in the business.”
Apprenticeships last three to four years, depending on each training center’s requirements. Apprentices are a reliable and consistent part of the workforce on whom other ironworkers depend. Experienced ironworkers also mentor apprentices, resulting in highly-skilled and knowledgeable journeymen.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that ironworking will grow much faster than average between 2012 and 2022. The need to rehabilitate, maintain and replace an increasing number of roads and bridges is expected to drive growth, as will the ongoing construction of large projects. Now is a perfect time for those thinking about trying their hand in ironworking especially women to start an apprenticeship. A comprehensive list of all apprenticeship training centers is available here.