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More women in trades could be the solution to the skills shortage, study finds

Key points:

  • Only a tiny percentage of tradespeople are women
  • A new study says more women in trades could help alleviate the skills shortage
  • The research shows that there are a number of ways to overcome the barriers women face

Female workers could be the answer to the skills shortage in manual trades, but only if more is done to remove the barriers they face entering male-dominated industries, new research shows.

The Charles Sturt University study identifies obstacles for women pursuing trades at every stage of their career, from school — when girls are more likely to be pushed towards higher education than a trade compared to boys — through to a lack of appropriate facilities such as toilets and changerooms for women on worksites.

Lead researcher Dr Donna Bridges said more women taking up careers as tradies could relieve pressure on the building, construction, maintenance and renovation industries.

Another significant factor to improving women's longevity in the manual trades is education about appropriate workplace behaviour.

"[There's] issues around bullying and harassment, issues around making jokes and sexualising other people," Dr Bridges said.

"I think there needs to be much more awareness in the industry around codes of conduct and acceptable behaviour."

Implementing a 'no dickhead policy'

Licensed builder and business owner Dionie Sullivan said she had a range of negative experiences as an apprentice, from a lack of appropriate facilities through to sexual harassment.

Those experiences led her to introduce a 'no dickhead policy' once she started her own building company.

The research shows there has been progress in recruiting women as tradespeople, with training organisations such as TAFE and larger employers implementing policies and programs to help recruit, train and retain women.

Dr Bridges says this needs to continue, and to be supported by more government and private sector policies and education programs, to create a sector that is stronger and more responsive to customer needs.

For more of this story go to the full article on the ABC new site: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-10/more-education-and-support-key-to-encouraging-women-into-trades/11490132