It can be tough for women to break into the trades industry. Our most recent blog contains valuable advice for women looking to secure their first trades role.
So you’re a woman and you are thinking about entering a trade, but something’s holding you back.
It’s completely natural to feel that way as many other women now leading the trade industry once felt. However, these are worries that can be addressed and overcome if you’re passionate about working in the manufacturing, construction or warehousing industry.
Here we share the positive ways such industries are changing on the gender front and offer some great advice for women in trades roles.
Things Are Looking Up
You probably don’t need to hear the stats to know women are seriously under-represented in the trades, but the last few years have seen some great progress.
While the construction industry still has only a12.7% female workforce, there’s been a massive spike in female apprentices. Queensland saw a 160% jump from December 2018 to December 2020. Of the total workforce, just over one in four employees are women in manufacturing, with similar figures for warehousing.
There’s been a lot of amazing work done by governments at both the federal and state level to encourage more women to start a trade, as they recognise the important part they play in addressing huge skills shortages and improving workplace practices.
This has included financial support, refined manufacturing, construction and warehousing recruitment standards, as well as tackling the problem at the grassroots level (i.e. high school). Examples include the Women Building Australia program delivered by Master Builders Australia and the Girls of Steel program offering trade apprenticeships for women aged 17 to 24.
More recently, the current government announced its decision to bring forward 180,000 fee-free TAFE places to 2023, with a specific aim of getting more women into construction.
Why Consider a Trade
While improved conditions for women across trade industries is one good reason to consider jumping on the tools, there is a heap of others.
Most trades pay really well and don’t require years and years of uni study or struggling up the corporate ladder to achieve success (you actually get paid while training!). The demand for tradies is at an all-time high so you’ll have great job security, plus no two days are the same with varying locations and many different and interesting tasks to perform.
Let’s turn to some advice if you’re looking to secure work or an apprenticeship in trades like manufacturing, construction and warehousing.
1. Shift Your View
There’s a preconception that female tradies can’t be successful in a male-dominated field but thankfully, the tides are turning. As a woman working a trade, you play a powerful part for other women and girls who have dreams of being Electricians or construction workers.
Seeing you have a go and making a success of it is an inspiration to them to do the same. Before you know it, Beyonce’s lyrics might hold true for the trades too (‘Who run the world? Girls!’).
2. Don’t Buy into the Myths
One of the standout myths that put women off trying to get into trades positions is the myth that they are not strong enough to manage the job. Whether it’s lifting heavy objects, working with power tools or putting in tough hours day after day, the misconception is that women cannot manage.
Many female tradies say they’ve learnt how best to work with their bodies, rather than against them, and that the exercise they do outside work hours is all you need to achieve tasks. Much has also been done to improve occupational safety and health. There are plenty of safety protocols in place to ensure all workers – male and female – aren’t pushed to dangerous limits. This includes the use of proper protective equipment combined with intensive training.
3. Seek a Supportive Work Environment
It’s really important to work in a place where you feel comfortable to learn and get involved. This includes being able to ask advice or for help when you need it without feeling like it’ll go against you. A workplace with a female mentor can also be beneficial, as they really get how you feel about breaking into a new industry and can offer realistic advice. Partnering up with a specialist trade recruitercan be a great move here. They have plenty of inside intel on what specific companies are really like and can help you get your foot in the door.
4. Be Open to All Options
When it comes to getting into the trades game, there are plenty of options including pre-apprenticeships (where you get to try a trade before committing to a full apprenticeship).
You can work full time, part-time or as a temp, too. If you pick this last option, developing a relationship with a temp recruitment agency is a good idea.
5. Try to Pay It Forward
When you are successful in securing a trade role, you can then share your experience, especially with other women. Hearing positive stories about other female tradies can do a lot for the younger generation, further busting stereotypes and removing barriers.
Consider speaking at schools, posting on social media, writing an article for a trade publication or website blog, or getting involved in a support group and acting as a mentor for other women.
We hope this advice will help you make the decision to take on a role in a brand-new trade. As a specialist manufacturing, construction and warehousing recruitment agency, we support candidates all across Australia in finding their right role fit, whether it’s their first, fifth, or first in a new field.
If you like some further advice about apprenticeships or securing a tradie position, feel free to connect with one of our recruitment team.