The Federal Government has promised to invest $38.6 million over four years from 2022–23 to boost the number of women working in trades.
The Government’s 2022–23 Women’s Budget Statement outlines $2.1 billion boost in funding for women, building on the Government’s existing $3.4 billion investment made in 2021-22, bringing the total funding to $5.5 billion.
Included in this is a range of initiatives aimed at supporting women in non-traditional occupations such as construction and quarrying.
The Women Building Australia program, delivered by Master Builders Australia, is set to receive $2.3 million over six years to 2023-24 “to support women in the building and construction industry and encourage girls to consider building and construction as a career path,” the Statement said.
The Women in Work Boots initiative, delivered by RTV Training (RTO: 90674), will also see $0.8 million allocated over three years to 2023-24 “to provide support for unemployed and underemployed women in Tasmania who are interested in pursuing a career in the agriculture, horticulture, civil construction, rail, transport, mining and quarrying industries.”
The Statement highlighted that in 2021, women only represented eight per cent of apprentices in non-traditional trade occupations.
“Many industries and organisations are recognising the importance of increasing the representation of women,” the Statement said.
“Working to increase the number of women in non-traditional trades will help to address skills shortages, can improve workplace practices, and further promote women’s economic security because these trades are in-demand and highly paid,” the Statement said.
Likewise, the Statement pointed out that “on average, men earn more than women within every industry in Australia, even those that are heavily female dominated, as men are more likely to be in senior positions and occupations that attract higher pay.”
The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) director Kristine Scheul commented on the Women’s Budget Statement in a blog post.
“There have been some ground-breaking and powerful initiatives promoted by State governments, but if women are to achieve any kind of economic security, it appears that they need to be involved more in this industry,” Scheul said.
“As our colleagues at Roads Australia so eloquently put it, fully unlocking the potential economic, employment and social benefits from these projects will require further policy reform in key areas to enhance industry capacity.
“NAWIC has some recommendations on what those policies should be if government and the industry is serious about attracting and retaining more women,” Scheul said.
NAWIC recommends subsidising childcare, portable leave balances, flexible working hours, and quotes requiring companies to increase the percentage of skilled female workers from tradespeople to corporate managers.
“NAWIC calls on the Government to consider these recommendations to support the attraction and retention of more women in construction so as to plug this gap in the skills shortage and ensure these significant budget allocations result in maximum return on investment through practicable reforms,” Scheul concluded.