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Women With Low-Earning Trade Certificates

LMI Insight Report no. 41

April 2021

Home > All Publications > LMI Insight Report no. 41, Women With Low-Earnings Trade Certificates

Table of Contents

Key Findings

  • Women make up fewer than 10% of Red Seal certified journeypersons in Canada, and they are overwhelming concentrated in three trades: hairstylist, cook and baker. 
  • Female journeypersons with Red Seal certification earn persistently less than their male counterparts within all broad trade categories. 
  • In the three main trades that account for more than 80% of all female journeypersons, women start out earnings less than men, and this earnings gap increases over time: 
    • Among those certified as hairstylists, women earn on average, $23,300 in the first year following certification, which is 86% of what their male counterparts earn. Eight years out, females certified as hairstylists earn 76% of what men earn. 
    • Among those certified as cooks, women earn on average, $34,600 in the first year following certification, which is 87% of what their male counterparts earn. Eight years out, females certified as cooks earn 77% of what men earn. 
    • Among those certified as bakers, women earn on average, $34,700 in the first year following certification, which is 85% of what their male counterparts earn. Eight years out, females certified as bakers earn 70% of what men earn.  
  • A key limitation of the data is that although we captured the annual earnings of trade certificate holders, we do not know what occupation they are working in nor are we able to capture hours worked. In some cases, journeypersons might be working in fields or sectors different from their trade.

      Women Overrepresented In the Lowest-Earning Trades

      Our analysis of the earnings in broad trade categories shows that female journeypersons earn persistently less than their male counterparts. Overall, women earn 46% of what men earn eight years after receiving Red Seal certification. However, much of this discrepancy is due to women’s overrepresentation in lower paid trades. Across all Red Seal trade certificate holders, only 8.8% are women, of which more than 80% are certified as hairstylists, cooks and bakers. Since women make up a small share of most trade certificate holders, earnings data is not available by gender beyond these three specific trades. 

      While both male and female hairstylists, cooks and bakers are among the lowest earners, men earn more than women in each of these trades, and this earnings gap increases over years. In the first year after being certified in a Red Seal trade, women hairstylists, cooks and bakers earn, respectively, 86%, 87% and 85% of what their male counterparts earn. These differences increase by 10 to 15 percentage points over time. Eight years after certification, female hairstylists earn 76% of what male hairstylists earn, female cooks earn 77% of what male cooks earn, and female bakers earn 70% of what male bakers earn. 

      This analysis complements our recent joint report with the Education Policy Research Initiative (EPRI) by focusing on the earnings of women in trades and the earnings differences between women and men over the years after trade certification. Our analysis focuses on those who received trade certification in 2009. We follow their annual earnings for eight years, from 2010 to 2017, with data from the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform (ELMLP) (see Box 1).  

      Box 1: What is the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform?

      Developed by Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada, the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform (ELMLP) is a data environment that provides enrollment information on all college and university graduates from publicly funded Canadian PSE institutions through the Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS) and all trade certificate holders through the Registered Apprenticeship Information System (RAIS). Both of these platforms are linked to tax records from the T1 Family File (T1FF), allowing us to follow the annual employment earnings of PSE graduates and trade certificate holders. Earnings include salaries/wages from an employer as well as self-employment income. The ELMLP does not have information on individual occupations, so earnings captured may not strictly come from trade salaries/wages. The earnings trajectory of 2010 PSE graduates was the focus of the LMICEPRI joint report How Much Do They Make? The associated data are also available on our interactive dashboard. For additional information, please visit our ELMLP project page 

       

      Over 80% Of Female Journeypersons Certified As Hairstylists, Cooks or Bakers

      According to the Labour Force Survey, about 20% of employed Canadians (roughly four million) work in the skilled trades. Based on RAIS data, about 80% of these workers are certified in the 56 Red Seal trades (see Box 2). Women, however, represent only 8.8% of all Red Seal trade certificate holders, even though they represent 48% of total employment in Canada. These women journeypersons are concentrated in small number of Red Seal trades, with more than four out of five, certified as hairstylists, cooks or bakers. 

      Box 2: Who are Red Seal Certificate Holders?

      Red Seal trades are designated trades governed by regulations under the Provincial and Territorial Apprenticeship Acts and Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Programs. Red Seal trades also have common standards to assess the skills of journeypersons across Canada. Red Seal trade certificate holders (known as journeypersons) include two groups: completers who receive their certificates after completing in-class training through the Red Seal Programs, and qualifiers who complete the final certification exam without registering for any Red Seal programs.

       

      In our sample which includes individuals certified in Red Seal trades in 2009 with subsequent earnings information1 32,200 Canadians received certificates, of which 2,830 (8.8%) were women. We organize the Red Seal trades for which data are available into six categories. As Table 1 shows, 82% (2,320) of women are certified in the “Other” trade category. This means that only 18% of women obtain Red Seal certifications in any of the other five trade categories.  

      Within the Other trade category, 98% (2,290 out of 2,320) of the female journeypersons fall into one of the three low-earning trades: hairstylist, cook or baker. Among these three trades, most women are certified as hairstylists. In fact, over two-thirds (69%) of all Red Seal certified women are hairstylists, about 10% are cooks and 3% are bakers. 

       

      Table 1: Count and percentage of female journeypersons certified as hairstylists, cooks or bakers 

        Total (dist.)*  Number of Women  Distribution of Women (of 2,830) 
      All 56 Red Seal Trades  32,200 (100%)  2,830  100% 
      Architectural & Construction  6,200 (19%)  110  3.9% 
      Electrical  6,430 (20%)  90  3.2% 
      Mechanical  5,440 (17%)  70  2.5% 
      Metal  5,280 (16%)  120  4.2% 
      Vehicle & Related  5,450 (17%)  120  4.2% 
      Other   3,440 (11%)  2,320  82.0% 
        • Hairstylist 
      2190 (7%)  1,950  68.9%  
        • Cook 
      860 (3%)  270  9.5% 
        • Baker 
      130 (<1%)  70  2.5% 
        • Remaining Trades** 
      260 (<1%)  30  1.1% 


      * The counts are based on our post-sample selection. For more information on our sample selection criteria please see Section 3 of the main report

      ** Remaining trades within the Other category include Rig Technician, Appliance Service Technician and Landscape Horticulturist. 

      Female Journeypersons Persistently Earn Less Than Their Male Counterparts

      Our findings show that eight years after receiving trade certification, women earn, on average, $35,700 while men earn $77,000, meaning that, overall, women earn 46% of what men do. This large gender earnings gap is primarily due to women’s overrepresentation in lower paid trades. As noted in our main report, however, female journeypersons earn persistently less than their male counterparts across all six broad trade categories. Eight years after certification, women in Electrical trades earn 78% of what men earn ($44,600 vs. $57,100) and women in Architectural & Construction trades earn 85% of what their male counterparts earn ($72,500 vs. $85,100). In Mechanical trades, the gender earnings gap is the lowest; women earn 89% of what men do ($74,500 vs. $84,100). In the “Other” category, where women are massively overrepresented, women earn 54% of what men do ($29,500 vs. $54,400). Importantly however, this category includes Rig Technicians, 99% of whom are men, who earn between $85,000 and $150,000 a year. 

      Looking at only the three specific trades with a large share of women, female journeypersons also earn persistently less than their male counterparts. As Table 2 shows, women with the female-dominated hairstylist certificate earn, on average, $23,300 in the first year after certification, which is 86% of what their male counterparts earn ($26,900). Eight years after certification, this gender earnings gap grows to 76%; women earn $27,200, which is 76% of what men earn ($35,900). 

      The gender earnings gap is even larger (in absolute terms) for cooks and bakers. Female cooks earn, on average, $34,600, which is 87% of what their male counterparts earn ($39,500) in the first year after certification. The gender earnings gap also increases over subsequent years. Eight years after certification, female cooks earn 77% of what male cooks earn ($40,600 vs. $53,000). 

      Likewise, female bakers earn, on average, $34,700 in the first year after certification, which is 85% of what their male counterparts earn ($40,900). The gender earnings gap also increases to become the largest among the three trades. Eight years after certification, female bakers earn $35,200, which is 70% of what male bakers earn ($50,600). 

       

      Table 2: Earnings of male and female hairstylists, cooks and bakers

      Red Seal Trade  Years since certification  Men ($)  Women ($)  Difference ($)  Women’s earnings relative to men’s* (%) 
      Hairstylist  Year 1  26,900  23,300  –3,600  86% 
      Year 8  35,900  27,200  –8,700  76% 
      Cook  Year 1  39,500  34,600  –4,900  87% 
      Year 8  53,000  40,600  –12,400  77% 
      Baker  Year 1  40,900  34,700  –6,200  85% 
      Year 8  50,600  35,200  –15,400  70% 


      *
      Womens earnings share is calculated by women’s earnings divided by men’s earnings. 

      The Way Forward

      In our full report on the earnings of journeypersons, we find that female journeypersons in all broad trade categories earn persistently less than their male counterparts. This Insight Report documents that the same pattern occurs within the three trades in which women are overrepresented. Women with hairstylist, cook and baker certificates earn less than their male counterparts, and this earnings gap widens over the eight years after certification. These findings align with our previous work leveraging ELMLP data on post-secondary education (PSE) graduates which showed a persistent and growing earnings gap between men and women within nearly all credentials and fields of study.  

      It is striking that the increasing gender earnings gap exists across both PSE credentials and Red Seal trade certificates in both female- and male-dominated domains. Importantly, however, the ELMLP does not provide information on an individual’s occupation or hours, meaning that we do not know if people are working fewer hours or earning less for the same number of hours of work. This data blind spot might be resolved over time as Statistics Canada adds other datasets to the platform.  

      By leveraging the administrative data available, LMIC’s intent is to help Canadians make the most informed decisions possible regarding training and education choices, and to help policy makers formulate the right policies. As mentioned in our blog post about skilled trades, policies such as the federal government’s Apprenticeship Incentive Grant may help to reduce the earnings gap. 

      In addition, although the administrative data available pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic’s massive labour market disruptions, the earnings of women in trades provides important context for understanding the employment impact of COVID-19 on men and women explored in our recent publication Women in Recessions: What Makes COVID-19 Different?  Looking ahead, LMIC will keep updating the data dashboards on Trade Certificate Holder Earnings and Post-Secondary Graduate Earnings as we engage in new research. 

      Acknowledgements

      This LMI Insight Report was prepared by Behnoush Amery, drawing on the LMIC–EPRI report on earnings of Red Seal journeypersons. We would like to thank EPRI for their efforts in leading the main report and providing the data for this Insight Report. For more information about this Insight Report and other related LMIC activities, please check out our project page, contact Behnoush Amery, Senior Economist, at behnoush.amery@lmic-cimt.ca, or contact Tony Bonen, Director, Research, Data and Analytics at tony.bonen@lmic-cimt.ca.

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