Long the sole domain of blokes, the number of Aussie women looking to forge a career in tradie roles is on the rise. In the past 12 months alone we’ve seen more than 10,000 women starting a trade.
Across the country there has been double-digit increases in the number of women applying for apprenticeships in trades, with plumbing, mechanics, electrical and carpentry amongst the most popular.
The reasons cited by women for choosing to pursue a trade are not much different from the men: It’s something different every day, it’s more exciting than an office job, and with the demand for skilled tradies at an all-time high, there’s plenty of opportunity to grow and expand as you carve out your career.
Increasing awareness and education around the opportunities for female tradies is creating a shift in attitudes across the board. Not only are more women being encouraged to get into trades, but employers are starting to realise that female tradies can do a just as good, if not better job than the boys.
Most importantly, more females are beginning to realise these are jobs they can easily do.
Organisations like SALT (Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen) are playing a big role in changing perceptions and encouraging more women to get into trades. SALT is run by volunteer tradeswomen who are passionate about having more women consider a career in trade.
In less than 10 years SALT has grown from seven founders to over 35,000 members, running workshops, women’s sheds and volunteer initiatives to encourage more women into trades.
Through their own research, SALT had identified that girls were less likely to be taught how to use tools at an early age, and without this basic knowledge of tool use that’s needed for the majority of trades, the possibility of a career on the tools seemed out of reach.
But with organisations such as SALT as well as Australian Government Initiatives like Apprenticeship Support Australia, helping to promote the cause, women of all ages are better informed about the potential for change and the paths available for a career on the tools.
These boots are made for workin’: Modernising workwear for women
With the number of women picking up the tools increasing, demand has also risen for more stylish, female specific safety clothing. Long gone are the days of gender-neutral clothing, where choosing a women’s work shirt often simply meant choosing a small size men’s.
Today, established safety manufacturers including Oliver Footwear, KingGee and Hard Yakka all produce lines of safety clothing tailored specially to the fit and style demands of the lady tradies.
Importantly, these new lines allow female workers to feel just as comfortable and confident in their PPE as their male counterparts, but probably the most significant development to come from these improvements in style is that it is helping to improve safety. These better fitting garments are encouraging people to always wear their PPE as intended, eliminating the need for alterations or the desire to forego their safety gear completely.
Australian brand Workhorse has also recognised this shift and is calling on the expertise ex-Country Road designer Cahal Callanan who now heads up the ANZ Apparel Program for Workhorse. “Across the fashion industry we’ve seen a significant shift in the number of non-work-wear brands now offering work-wear ranges, but it’s important to not under estimate the technical specifications that need to be incorporated into high quality safety work wear” says Callanan.
To find out more about SALT and the SkillWomen Workshops visit:
To find out more about Apprenticeship Support Australia visit: