Female electrician working in trade

Women in trade | Construction is hungry for new talent

By Trade Up Admin on 13th June 2023

When asked what an average skilled trades worker looks like, many will automatically picture the stereotypical tradesman. But this comes as no surprise because despite the growing interest, women continue to be outnumbered across the UK construction sector while the industry faces a growing skills gap. 

According to the latest ONS figures, of the 2.1 million people currently employed in the construction industry, only 15% are women. However, our most recent independent survey conducted by Censuswide across the UK reveals 31% of individuals are likely to consider becoming a tradesperson. Notably, this trend extends to women, with one in four open to skilled trades.

The benefits of women pursuing a career in trade

For women (and men), there are practical barriers which stand in the way of enabling adult learners to pivot into a career in trade. These include limited routes to entry as well as costly and time-consuming training programmes. But as the country faces a huge labour shortage, now is a fantastic opportunity for the industry to pave the way for adults and future generations who think a trade career could be for them. This can be achieved by delivering quality training and providing a network filled with opportunities.

“The construction and trade industries are hungry for talent, and there is a clear appetite to pursue a career in this space. The focus now is on shattering the glass ceiling and bridging the divide to build an industry that is not only inclusive, but welcoming.” 
– Melanie Waters, Managing Director of Trade-Up

Exploring the reasons behind the growing interest in trade, our survey revealed the following topped the list of key motivations:

  • Flexibility (38%)
  • Good salary prospects (32%)
  • A growing sector (30%) 
  • Stability (30%) 

Respondents who are not satisfied with their current career are particularly attracted to the sector’s flexibility and salary prospects. 

Yet aside from the practical barriers, confidence was deemed the biggest obstacle for 53% of women, with the perception of not having the right skills or meeting industry stereotypes.

Trade stability infographic

A call for better support

Building confidence is at the heart of Trade–Up’s mission. We encourage individuals to recognise, hone and unleash their potential. As more and more women fill these jobs, the need for fair representation and industry support increases. 

When asked what types of support could enable more people to get into the sector, 36% of respondents felt having access to work opportunities with existing tradespeople to build confidence would encourage them into a trade career. Expensive training (33%) and retraining taking too long (29%) are considered some of the biggest roadblocks, showcasing the demand for easy funding for courses and faster routes to be a qualified tradesperson.

How women can start their career in trade

Despite current barriers, over half of the survey respondents demonstrated motivation to learn new skills and knowledge in a domestic trade. A majority (60%) of people interested in exploring trade as a career pursuit also said they were willing to take on extra training, including 50% of women. 

With centres covering many regions of the UK, Trade-Up’s expert training partners ensure learners are fully equipped with the latest tools and knowledge they need to succeed. You can also shadow skilled professionals to learn in a real-world environment and when close to completing your course, we will guide you through a portal with the support of a dedicated recruitment agency to find your new role. Alternatively, learners can garner support to set up their own business.  

Research shows that more work needs to be done by the industry and government to provide accessible, affordable pathways into the sector. However, it is encouraging to see a wave of new talent keen to enrich their careers and make a living helping others. Starting a new career doesn’t need to be difficult and trades can be a compelling and achievable option for anyone.

Ready to take on a new challenge? Click the button below to hear from our team and find out more.