“If someone doesn’t know what they want to do in life, they should join the IBEW or any other apprenticeship,” said New Orleans Local 130 apprentice Grace Kluesner in a webinar that accompanied the release of a report on women in construction in the New Orleans area. “Being paid to learn a skilled trade that you will use and profit from throughout your life is much better than trying to figure out what’s next in a minimum wage job without good benefits or the skills to get you a better job.”
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a report earlier this year on the economic effects of COVID-19 in New Orleans, focusing on women, one of the hardest-hit demographics. In a city known for festivals, live music and a vibrant entertainment culture, the pandemic lockdown cut deep into the financial fabric of the city, and a lot of those cuts disproportionately affected women. According to the LA Workforce Commission, the New Orleans metro area lost close to 57,000 jobs in 2020, with over 40% concentrated in leisure and hospitality. The industry isn’t expected to recover for several years.
A union construction job is good for anyone who can do the work, but it can be particularly beneficial for women, especially those who are the main breadwinners in their households. In New Orleans, that accounts for more than three-quarters of homes with dependent children.
“When women make smart choices to pursue high-demand, high-wage jobs, it’s transformational,” said Nunez Community College Chancellor Dr. Tina Tinney. “It not only changes the quality of her life, it changes the quality of her family’s life, and it changes generations behind her.”