Trade careers release research

Press release: 2 September 2021

Trade careers survey results reveal 79% of employers in the trade sector want to hire women but need support to do it.

Results also highlight the importance of a supportive boss, flexibility, workplace safety and cultural respect for women.

Employers in the trade sector want to hire women, but need support to do it.

Trade Careers has today released its pioneering research and insights report, revealing that 79% of trade employers surveyed would like to hire female employees into their businesses but need support to do so. Employers stated reasons such as women’s dedication to their work, higher attention to detail and time management skills as attributes that would make them an asset to their sites.

The report aims to reveal the barriers Kiwi women face when entering the building, construction and infrastructure industries. The solutions-focussed report was commissioned in April 2021 to better understand the employment situation of the 22,000 New Zealand women who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. The results offer insights into how to attract and transition women into careers within the trade sector.

Currently, the trade industries are experiencing an unprecedented skills shortage. At present, only 2.6% of the building, construction and infrastructure sector are women, however, both employers and women have said they want to connect with each other.

Of the 2,254 women who completed the survey, 60% would like to enter the trade industry, and 79% of the 207 employers who responded said they would like to hire women and would value support to do so.

From employers' perspectives, women’s attention to detail, dedication, positive attitude, customer service and time management skills were noted as attractive reasons for hiring women as tradespeople. Several perceived barriers included concerns regarding women’s physical strength, flexibility to accommodate child care, maternity cover and navigating negative workplace culture. Trade Careers believe these myths can be easily busted.

Survey results found that women want a supportive boss and work colleagues, and an understanding from their employer of flexible working hours to support caring responsibilities. The results highlighted a want for better understanding career pathways in the trades, and the importance of feeling safe, both physically and mentally, at work. Results also shone a light on the importance of a workplace that is respectful of different cultures.

Tim Fowler, Chief Executive, Tertiary Education Commission commented: “We funded this work because it is important to know what barriers and opportunities are out there for women getting into trades, especially as they are an under-represented group. This survey shows there are still some perception and social barriers for women. If we can make it easier for 50% of the population to enter the trades, that could go a long way to easing skills shortages as well as improve long term career opportunities for women.”

Based on focus group data, the trade industry appeals to women for a variety of reasons, including challenging gender stereotypes, being a role model for others, and not being desk-bound. Other reasons included increased physical and mental health, strong transferrable skills and employment stability.

Challenges for entering the industry included the length of time for training, finding the required flexibility for childcare responsibilities and being unsure of how to kick-start a career in the trades.

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