Fiona McDonald, Managing Director, Tradeswomen Australia an ex motor mechanic


Girls completing school at the end of the year are being urged to consider trade apprenticeships or employment in the trades areas to take advantage of the Federal Government’s $2 billion skills push amid deepening unemployment.


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


Ms McDonald, who trained as a motor mechanic, said “currently, one of the major challenges is overcoming the lack of knowledge at school level and with parents, that women have the potential and the ability to have successful, rewarding careers in the trades.

“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.”


Tradeswomen Australia is a not for profit organisation dedicated to increasing the number of women to access, participate and succeed in the trades area.


“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.”


Ms McDonald said 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.


“Given more than 50% of the Australian population is represented by women, it is time to utilise this national skills base which would lift national employment and productivity,” she said.

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

  1. Lack of information and engagement about trades with career advisors and secondary school girls
  2. Poor workplace culture and social misconception make trades unattractive as a career path
  3. No structural support systems for women working in male-dominated trade industries.


Ms McDonald said in 2012, the Grattan Institute found 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.


Media Enquiries:

Ron Smith, Media Communications, Tradeswomen Australia –

Mobile: 0417 329 201