Trade Pathways Women’s Strategy

Trade Pathways Program

Our vision

NSW Government to be the exemplar State in transformative change for women working in trades.

Why the trade sector needs women

Women continue to be underrepresented in the trades sector. Participation of women in male dominated trades remains persistently low in Australia despite a suite of government and non-government initiatives since the 1980s. Women make up only 2% of qualified trade workers. This is a world wide trend.

Women face a range of barriers which inhibit their choice to participate in trades. Women’s participation in the trade workforce is critical to the economic prosperity of NSW. Women play a vital role in addressing skills shortages in key industry areas and occupations in NSW.

Why don’t many women enter the trades industry? Research shows that it’s partly cultural. Some industries are resistant to encouraging women in the workforce and gender perceptions have built up over time about which jobs and roles are ’suitable’ for women.

This means it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, where women don’t enter the trades industry because they perceive that it’s male dominated and so it stays that way.

Yet there’s never been a better time for women to enter the trades industry. Nationwide there  are critical skills shortages in key industries such as building and construction. Women are an untapped market and the trades industry offers women employment stability and economic security in high demand industries.

Female carpentry apprentice wearing work uniform in a construction site

How the strategy will work

The Trade Pathways Program focuses on three pillars of action based on research and consultation with industry stakeholders and women’s advocacy groups.

  • Increase the appeal of trades to raise women’s level of participation
  • Facilitate change to remove cultural and societal barriers
  • Support women’s learning to maximise vocational outcomes

What the Department will do

  1. Establish the Trade Pathways Program as a champion for women in trades and ensure trade pathways for women are informed, accessible and supported from beginning to end
  2. Implement strategies to increase awareness of gender discrimination in trades workplaces to assist workplace supervisors to manage conscious and unconscious bias
  3. Improve access and opportunities to support women to take the first step and transition into a career in trades.
Female electronic VET apprentice wearing safety gear holding electric cables

Women in Trades Initiatives

Key messages

  • Women are vital to addressing trade skill shortages
  • Trade careers are rewarding and positively impact on the economic security of women
  • Innovative marketing will reimagine the image of women in trades
  • Strong relationships between the NSW Government and industry will help redress the gender imbalance in trades

Download the Women in Trades Strategy brochure.

Contact us

Email tradepathways@det.nsw.edu.au for further information.

Page last updated: 16 November 2021