The amount of women in trades has increased in recent years despite the fact that it has for so long been a male-dominated industry. In the UK, a recent study found that there are more than twice the amount of women working in the trades than there were ten years ago. That’s a great statistic, don’t you think?
What Are Skilled Trade Jobs?
Trade jobs involve some form of manual labor. Being out and about in the field is very common as they don’t revolve around working in an office. Common job titles include mechanic, plumber, electrician, construction worker and even chef (hey, we’ve all got to eat!). So while there’s no singular definition for a trade job, they almost always require some form of on-the-job training or a more specialized approach through further education and advanced learning courses. It also depends on the type of industry you’re going into.
Why Should Women Take Up Trade Jobs?
The demand for this type of work is always high, and being skilled in any trade is considered very valuable. Therefore, there are a lot of opportunities for women in skilled trades. With more women filling up these spaces, it is slowly becoming more common to see women working in a traditionally male-dominated environment. A recent survey discovered that 46% of respondents would hire a female tradesperson, and one in three women would rather hire a female tradesperson for work around the home. In addition, many women have family, social and community commitments that leave them hesitant to attend college or accumulate massive student debt as a result. One benefit of working in the trade industry is that training and education is often more affordable and integrated with work. This is because trade work focuses more on vocational education, and it’s rare you’ll need a specific degree as part of your training. That also means you can learn on the job, which is definitely more interesting than sitting at a desk from nine-to-five doing the same thing all day, as is the case with a standard office job. With a job in skilled trades, every day is different. You’re travelling around to different places, doing different types of work and you can expand your knowledge and skillsets in the process.
6 Tips For Women In Trades
At the end of the day, the same tips for how to do well in the trades apply, no matter who you are. We’ll look at some of the key things you can focus on throughout your career, such as always being open to learning new skills, building strong relationships and looking into apprenticeship programs.
Be open to adapt and learn
Let’s face it, the monotony of your every day work routine can become dull over time. What better way to jazz it up than learning something new? Working within the trades requires you to be adaptive to learning and expanding your skillset. Not only does it open up different opportunities in terms of the jobs you’re accepting, but provides personal growth. Learn from your colleagues and co-workers and absorb as much as you can.
Build strong relationships with both team and clients
Working within the trades out on the field includes interacting with customers and colleagues. Communication is key. Be confident building those relationships and navigating your own customer service journey. Having a good working relationship with customers becomes second nature if you’re delivering excellent customer service. You want customers to hire you again for future jobs. By strengthening the relationship, you build credibility, trust and nurture a bond between them and your business. When it comes to your own colleagues, you’ve got to work together day in and day out so having a good rapport with them also helps keep things smooth sailing. It’s important to be sociable and courteous with any connections you make in the industry, whether they are colleagues or customers.
Consider apprenticeship programs
There’s always room to grow and improve your skillset. Apprenticeships offer the chance to learn on the job. The icing on the cake? Apprenticeships are paid. They expand opportunities in your existing workplace and help progress your career. Running for as little as one year or as long as five, after completing all of your learning you’ll be qualified in a specific area or skill.
Learn to set clear boundaries
We’ve all been in that familiar situation. You’re waiting for an electrician to fix a faulty spotlight in the kitchen. Their arrival window is anywhere from 7am - 7pm. They arrive at 6:45pm with determination to get the job done. Within the trades, there is always ambiguity as to when the working day ends. It’s not ideal to work later than planned, but sometimes you must. However, learn to set clear boundaries within the workplace in order to balance your personal and familial commitments. Boundaries should be:
- Clear and concise
- Understood by both parties
- Flexible but firm
You need to ensure you’ve set these boundaries with both your employer and your customers, this way there can be no room for confusion.
Be aware of your rights
While attitudes are changing towards women in trades, there are still challenges and obstacles to overcome, including sexism, stereotypes and a lack of mentoring. Make sure you do your research and know your rights as a worker. There are groups and people you can talk to with further guidance on knowing your rights in the workplace, supporting diversity and working to shut down stigma around women in trades.
Focus on networking
Building lasting relationships within the workplace is great. After all, you spend a large portion of your lifetime with the same group of people at work. And if you’re running a business, it’s important to have strong working relationships. Your staff will contribute to whether your business is a success or failure in the long run. Networking within the industry brings in new business, new connections and puts your name on the map.
Being a woman in skilled trades opens doors and opportunities. With vocational learning styles and a variety of skillsets to pick up, you can carve your own path. There’s never going to be a shortage of blocked sinks, leaky toilets and new properties to build. Whichever route you choose, you get the added satisfaction of knowing you are helping change the dialog about women in trade.
Want to hear more about women working in the trades? Check out our interview with some powerful women in trade here.