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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

If I Had a Hammer

Retraining That Really Works

This book is about poor women, many of them single mothers, Aboriginal, or both, who have defied the odds to become apprenticing carpenters. To do so they have juggled child-care schedules, left abusive partners, and kicked drug habits to participate in a unique intensive retraining program. Through the voices of the women participants and their instructors, Margaret Little analyzes the program to reveal the struggles and triumphs of low-income women. She demonstrates that there is a desperate need for retraining programs that provide real opportunities for economic independence. She also argues that, in an era of workfare and time-limited welfare, such programs are an effective strategy for welfare reform.

192 pages

Table of Contents


1 Introduction

2 Laying the Foundation

3 The Everyday Lives of Our Heroes

4 From Blueprint to Reality: Challenges at the Job Site

5 Measuring Success

6 "A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out": Let’s Get Serious About Retraining



Selected Bibliography


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