Hiring women in non-traditional trades: the benefits of a gender diverse workforce

A non-traditional trade is defined as one where women represent less than 25% of apprentices or workers. These include horticulture, automotive, building and construction, and many more.

The mining, construction and utilities industries have historically been perceived to be a ‘man’s domain’ and the representation of women has remained low across all levels. These industries have struggled to attract women to consider and apply for jobs, as well as facing challenges in retaining the women who have chosen to work with them.

We believe that an intelligent strategy for employers in non-traditional trades must include more consistently considering women for these roles, and that addressing diversity in the workplace, is one tactic that can be implemented by Australian businesses to help address labour market shortages.

It’s also important to note that the business benefits go far beyond addressing skill shortages – here’s why:

A gender diverse workforce improves company and financial performance

A diverse and inclusive workforce in any industry generates tangible benefits such as increased efficiency, productivity, innovation, creativity and improved employee engagement. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top 25% for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability (McKinsey & Company, 2018). The findings also indicate that companies with low representation of women and other diverse groups were 29% more likely to underperform on profitability (McKinsey & Company, 2018).

According to Gallup Workplace Studies, organisations with inclusive cultures do better on several indicators than those that are not inclusive, with 39% higher customer satisfaction, 22% greater productivity and 27% higher profitability.

Paul Whiteman of BHP’s FutureFit Academy says, “The whole concept of diversity is around bringing people from different cultures, different life experiences, to join together and build a better business.”

Future-proofing the Australian workforce

Australia has an ageing population and labour force participation rates are expected to decline steadily as older Australians continue to retire. Overall, participation for all people aged 15 years and over is projected to fall from 64.6 percent in 2014-15 to 62.4 percent in 2054-55 (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015).

The National Skills Sumit has highlighted the importance of apprenticeships and traineeships in addressing labour market shortages as the labour market tightens, unemployment is at an all-time low, and businesses are struggling to recruit.

Lifting female labour force participation in Australia will be instrumental to offsetting the effects of our ageing population (KPMG, 2018) – and as an employer you can play your part by ensuring that workplace conditions support equitably balanced work and home lives for both male and female employees.

The future of Australian recruitment

By strategically working towards a gender-diverse workforce companies are better positioned to attract the brightest and best in their fields, as well as addressing prescient labour market skills shortages.

Female employment has risen steadily since the 1970s and, based on this strong growth, female labour force participation rates are projected to grow to approximately 70 percent by 2055 (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015). This is due to increased levels of education, changing social attitudes towards gender roles, improved access to childcare services, and the more recent increased uptake of flexible working arrangements (BCEC 2016).

For Australian employers it means that this is the perfect opportunity for smart businesses to get ahead, expand and innovate, by championing the committed and talented women within their local communities – and The Apprenticeship Community can help.

How The Apprenticeship Community can support you

The Apprenticeship Community is part of a national collective of Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) providers.

Every year, we help hundreds of employers in Perth, and other regions of Western Australia, secure government funding when hiring an apprentice or trainee.

We also offer advice and tailored support for apprentices, trainees and business, to support successful careers and skilled, productive workplaces.

We believe that hiring women in non-traditional trades supports the local economy, helps businesses thrive, and is a vital stepping stone to building a more inclusive future for Australia.

The Apprenticeship Community currently works with BHP, Perenti and Georgiou to recruit, support and retain apprentices through a range of no-cost recruitment services and one-on-one mentoring for your employee.

“We want to ensure you are happy with how your apprentice or trainee is going, that they are meeting your workplace expectations, and that they remain on track to successfully complete their qualification.”

If you believe your HR team would also benefit from tools for inclusive recruitment practices, and comprehensive support in creating and integrating a diverse workforce of apprentices and trainees, enquire today and let’s work together to make non-traditional trades traditional.

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