Battle for Women to Gain Employment in Trades less than 2% for over 25 years

Managing Director of Tradeswomen Australia, Fiona McDonald today said, without immediate and significant change to remove the barriers for women to gain employment in traditional trades, a growing  number of women in Australia will continue to face financial hardship and greater risk of homelessness during retirement. Update

The lack of representation of women apprentices/trainees in the non-traditional trades, especially in the core trades of carpentry, electrical and plumbing, has remained less than 2% for over twenty-five years.

On current information it will take 99.5 years for these issues to be resolved with Australia ranking 44th overall in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Index.

“The battle for women to gain employment in the traditional trades starts with the lack of information and encouragement at school level which is compounded by the existing male dominance across the trades in Australia.”

Currently the National Skills Needs List (2019) lists 65 trades that are experiencing national skills shortages. Of those, 62 can be classed as male-dominated trades; only 3 could be classed as female-dominated.

Ms McDonald said economic benefits of employing women should not be overlooked with the Grattan Institute in 2012 finding that if there was an extra 6% of women in the workforce, we could add up to $25 billion, or approximately 1%, to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product. * ²

Barriers to increasing the number of women employed in the trades have been identified as:

a) Lack of information and engagement about trade with career advisors and secondary school girls

b) Poor workplace culture and social misconception make trades unattractive as a career path

c) No structure support systems for women working in male-dominated trade industries.


* ² Towards 2025 An Australian Government Strategy to Boost Women’s Workforce Participation

Media Enquiries:

Ron Smith: 0417 329 201