Although there may be no end in sight to the construction industry’s persistent labor shortage, the situation would be far worse than it is if weren’t for the work of Kelly Tourdot.
Even before becoming vice president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, Tourdot had played a role in attracting new recruits to the industry. Her past titles at the organization include education coordinator, apprenticeship director and corporate trainer.
Throughout it all, one of her goals has been to make women feel welcome.
“It’s getting the message out that, yes, we are open to business for women,” she said, adding that the number of women in the industry is increasing, “but it’s still way too low.”
Her colleague John Schulze, ABC director of government and legal affairs, noted in nominating Tourdot that there are now 1,300 people enrolled in ABC apprenticeships.
“A great deal of that high-water mark can be attributed to Kelly,” he wrote.
Tourdot said her connection to the trades came from her father, who supported her family by working as a lineman. A native of the Madison area, she went to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for college, earning a business degree.
She joined the ABC 23 years ago to work with its apprenticeship program. One of the first things she noticed was that very few women were then even considering the trades as a career option.
Tourdot said the notion that only men are up to the physical demands of construction is an odd one.
“If you are going into nursing, you are going to be doing quite a bit of physical work,” she said. “So we just want women to think about our industry and how they could have a great career in it.”
Outside the ABC, Tourdot works with National Craft Championship Committee and the State Electrical Construction Apprenticeship Advisory Committee at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and is on the Wisconsin Technical College System Board.