HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The State Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development was in western Massachusetts Thursday joining with local business owners, contractors and educators to promote access to construction jobs and careers for young women.

“It feels great honestly. It just makes me feel and let’s other people know that you are wanted in the field and that there are people like you in the field and you can strive for it just like anybody else,” said Natalie Colon, a Senior electrical student at Holyoke High School.

The event looking to capitalize on an already positive trend. Last year saw the highest participation of women in construction industries ever recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 16-percent of jobs in construction last year were held by women.

22News heard from professionals Thursday, a huge part of that is thanks to exposure to programs and encouragement at a younger age.

“What drew me into the trade was I didn’t have to do art class. I chose welding over art and I ended up being really good at it,” said Brandie Benoit, a Local 63 sheet metal worker in Springfield.

State Workforce and Labor Secretary Lauren Jones made this event a priority as she tours the state promoting apprenticeship week, an effective tool in getting women into lucrative careers in trade. Roughly 92-percent of women in building trades in Massachusetts are enrolled in union apprenticeship programs.

“There is so much innovation in that space and we want to make sure young girls see that innovation and get that hands on experience – knowing it’s important as we think about our future workforce,” said Jones.

Local News

Duncan MacLean is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2019. Follow Duncan on X @DMacLeanWWLP and view his bio to see more of his work.