Our most Recent Level 1 and 2 Painting classes gave an opportunity to some of our female apprentices, to try out the new spray and blast equipment here at the FTI. By all accounts the new protective hoods and blast/spray outfits performed well, and were much more comfortable and lightweight than the previous generation of protective equipment. Blasting and spraying is hard physical work, so anything that can be done to keep our apprentices as comfortable as possible while they work is always appreciated. The ability to control the temperature of the supplied breathing air also helps with comfort levels.
As we look to expand our pool of apprentices, one of the areas we here at the FTI are trying to take into account, is how we attract more women to our trades. While we have traditionally had reasonably good numbers of women in the painting trade, the Industrial side of the business tended to be a more male oriented workforce. Changes in equipment such as the new generation of protective equipment being used at our facility will help make our industries more appealing to those women who felt the physical challenges of Industrial painting were too demanding.
Our Wall and Ceiling program in both the steel stud and drywall finishing aspects of that industry is just now starting to attracting women. We currently have female apprentices who are working for our contractors at various levels of apprenticeship in these trades. The one trade where we continue to struggle to attract women is our Glazing trade. We believe that this is due in large part to the fact that it can be a very heavy trade given the move to larger lites of glass being demanded by architects and designers.
However, changes are occurring in this trade thanks to the introduction of automated glazing manipulators. Much of the heavy lifting is now being carried out by these incredible machines, taking away the overly physical aspect of the work involved. The FTI is looking at purchasing a glazing manipulator in the near future, to add to our increasing inventory of new age equipment. We hope that women will start looking at the glazing trade as a more attractive career choice.
The Finishing Trades are great trades that can provide individuals of all genders and backgrounds with the opportunity to learn and earn throughout their working lives. The FTI is doing our part to increase awareness that our trades truly are for everyone.