We reflect back on this week’s World Youth Skills Day, in recognition of the importance in equipping young females with employability skills, as well as the crucial role of skilled tradeswomen in addressing current and future skills challenges within male dominated industries. This year the celebration occurred within a challenging COVID context, threatening the continuity of VET skills development, further challenges in obtaining and holding on to secure employment, critical trade skills shortages as well as unemployment

In addition to initial Federal funding support, the $500 million JobTrainer scheme was announced this week to offer free or subsidised training to females wanting to undertake trades training or re-skilling. A further $1.5 billion in training wage subsidies will be extended to employers to assist in the retention of valued female apprentices and trainees after government data revealed a 6% suspension or cancellation of apprenticeships and traineeships during the COVID crisis.

Tradeswomen Australia’s Managing Director, Fiona McDonald, stated this week that the investment commitment by the Federal Government presented a major opportunity to increase the number of women apprentices/trainees in core trades of carpentry, automotive and electrical, which has remained at less than 2% for over twenty-five years:

“Given the large numbers of job losses which will impact on women’s employment, it is an important time for women to explore wider horizons for employment in the trades…Increasing the number of women in the building and construction industry is about the Federal and State Governments, along with industry, working towards dealing with Australia’s Skills Shortage.”

In addition to VET, our organisation recognises the invaluable part WorldSkills Australia play in showcasing the talent of tradeswomen in skills competitions, providing them development opportunities as well as championing the importance of vocational training and skill excellence. Whilst this year’s national event was postponed due to the impact of COVID and subsequent restrictions, it is encouraging to see that Australian tradeswomen will have the opportunity to participate in the national competition in 2021.

Tradeswomen Australia celebrate World Youth Skills day with the rest of the world in continuing to communicate the value of increasing the number of women in skilled trades through valuable trade training, as well as addressing national skill shortages in male dominated industries through the employment and retention of tradeswomen.