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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo Continues Push for Higher Paying Careers for Women in the Skilled Trades

On Friday, April 14, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo toured a New York City community-based organization that trains women in the trade as part of the Administration’s “Investing in America” tour and as part of her ongoing commitment to boosting wages for women through access to higher-paying careers in the skilled trades. One of Secretary Raimondo’s top priorities at the Commerce Department remains uplifting women in the workforce and building a workforce that reflects all of America.

During her visit to Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), Secretary Raimondo met with women who are learning carpentry and electrical work for careers in construction and the trades. In October 2022, Secretary Raimondo announced the Million Women in Construction initiative that aims to build a new inclusive American workforce by bringing more women into the construction industry and doubling the number of women in construction over the next decade.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to double the number of women in construction and the trades over the next decade,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we’re investing in America – in our manufacturing, in our roads and bridges, in renewables – and all of those investments are going to create hundreds of thousands of new construction jobs.”

Even though women account for more than half of the U.S. population, they make up less than 10% of jobs in the trades. In some skills, it is only 2-3 percent. The Department of Commerce is working to expand opportunities for women to access higher wage, high quality jobs that have traditionally been dominated by men. Construction jobs are among the highest paying jobs without a college degree.

“Investing in women is not just a matter of fairness; we risk falling behind if we fail to support bringing more women into the workforce,” said Secretary Raimondo.

During her visit, the Secretary also joined the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon in announcing the availability of $5 million from the Labor Department to fund up to 14 grants to attract and support women in gaining access to Registered Apprenticeship programs in industries where they are underrepresented such as construction, manufacturing and cybersecurity. Currently, women only comprise approximately 14 percent of Registered Apprentices while they account for nearly half the U.S. labor force.

The Investing in America agenda, which includes legislation such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPs and Science Act, is creating millions of good-paying jobs in renewable energy, transportation and broadband infrastructure sectors, and the Biden-Harris administration is helping workers access the training and develop the skills needed to fill these jobs.

“There's no way the Department of Commerce is investing billions of taxpayer dollars in brand new infrastructure projects and not having those jobs go to people who look like all of America,” said Raimondo.

The Department of Commerce’s mission is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity for all communities. Essential to that mission is the need to build sustainable, employer-driven career pathways to meet employers’ need for talent and to connect Americans to quality jobs. Click here for more information.