Trade Careers is the first project of the newly-formed Women in Trades Collective (WITC). It is supported by the BCITO, Connexis, Skills, and Competenz, and funded by the Tertiary Education Commission.
WITC launched two nationwide surveys in early April to understand more about why women are not entering trade careers, and what may be preventing employers in the trades from hiring more women.
To date, 22,000 women have lost their jobs in New Zealand due to Covid-19. Women make up half the population yet, in total, there are only 13.5% of women in the trades, including in administrative roles.
The survey inviting women who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19 to consider entering the trades received 1000 responses in just under a week.
The first two focus groups, in Whangarei and Manakau, have sold out. A cross section of women are attending, and are keen to share their experiences.
When asked about the considerations for looking for a job in the trades, a range of key issues have come up so far, including the need to earn while they learn, the physicality of the work, and the application of transferable skills.
• “I’m practical and smart, and like to have variation in my work. A trade would make me feel useful and secure if it was in an in-demand industry. The opportunity for decent pay, self-direction and self-employment is attractive versus being employed in a more traditional job.
“The ability to train while being paid in the job is vital to those who are already responsible for a mortgage and family, and can’t just move back into a cheap flat while studying.”
• “Physical work outdoors appeals after a career spent at a desk 40 hours a week, in a growth industry with plenty of work and, once qualified, excellent remuneration.”
• “The chance to learn and gain the skills on how to renovate and build homes. To help shape the future I may hope to build.”
• “I’m 52 and I’m keen to learn more about how I can get an administrative job or project manager role in construction.
“It seems to be a well-paid industry with good job security and options for starting your own business, plus you will acquire many practical skills.”
Others have been clear about wanting to close the gender pay gap.
• “I want to be paid equivalent to what a male would earn. I do not want to work on reception. I wanted a job that keeps me fit and to see results from my work. I also wanted to be treated with the same respect that a male would get in the workplace.
“I do not like sitting still for long periods of time or doing boring things like data entry or serving coffees. University was not an option for me.”
Women in Trades Collective spokesperson Kelly Bennett says there has been an incredible response.
“It shows that many women are keen to learn more about how they can enter the trades, either by getting on the tools or using their transferable skills.
“It also shows employers that lots of women are interested in joining the sector,” Bennett says.
There have been a number of women who are currently working in the trades who have also taken the survey, and have shared what attracted them to the industry:
• “I’ve always felt that I had a practical and logical kind of intelligence. I’d rather work on a tangible project and figure out how to overcome any setbacks by thinking it over and finding the right tools for the job.
“As a woman growing up I was more encouraged to develop my artistic and humanitarian side, rather than my practical side. It took me some time to recognise I was good with the tools and to give it a go.”
• “At the start I wanted to prove a point that women can do male-dominated jobs but, rather quickly after starting, I fell in love with my job and still love to do it.”
• “I wanted a career that would last long-term and with different options, so I chose to be an electrician — they are always needed. I also wanted better hours, coming from hospo work.”
• “I like leaving my work at work, not having it spill into family time.”
With the current need for skilled employees within the construction industry, getting more women into the industry is a high priority.
Trade Careers is keen to hear more from employers. So far, only 50 employers have completed the survey asking them about the opportunities and challenges for hiring more women.
For more information visit www.trade-careers.co.