The Hidden Skills Gap: Getting More Women Into Trades

Getting more women into STEM fields is a critical part of boosting innovation in Australia. While government and industry initiatives are a step in the right direction for the science, technology and engineering fields, talent supply into the construction and infrastructure industries is falling below sustainable levels.

According to research undertaken by the Department of Employment in 2015, construction trades are one of the most difficult groups to recruit for. ‘Employers filled fewer vacancies and attracted smaller fields of candidates in 2015-16 than the previous year.’

There is a growing shortage of qualified tradespeople coming onto the market and adding to the challenge that employers currently face is the lack of women, comprising only 12% of the construction workforce (down from 14.8% a decade ago).

We invited a number of industry leaders from both the construction and infrastructure industries to kick start the conversation on the real state of play for diversity & inclusion; and what it will take to shift the dial.

One of the key findings was the need to foster the next generation of ‘tradies’. To increase future participation, we have to tackle the underlying biases at a much earlier age. Gender equality needs to start with early education for young children particularly at primary school age to focus on breaking the stereotypes around what is women’s work versus what is men’s work.

The future of work is full of exciting opportunities. Innovation, entrepreneurship and STEM experience will open up pathways to jobs and careers that don’t even exist today. But we need to quickly change current misperceptions that are limiting girls and women considering careers in construction, infrastructure and the trades where many of the future opportunities will exist.

Key findings included:

• The need to start breaking gender stereotypes about work at a much earlier age

• A focus on sourcing more hands on work experience opportunities for girls

• Encouraging girls to undertake STEM studies and careers including entrepreneurship

• Review the language of job titles used to attract candidates, for example diesel mechanic versus combustion engineer

• Ensuring there is a clear pathway for apprentice recruitment through to TAFE

• Increasing awareness of the breadth of roles and opportunities available in this critical industry

Where To Next?

At Human Agency we are committed to designing HR differently. We work together with our clients to co-create highly engaging, authentic diversity narratives that drive real change and realise potential.


Confidential consultation

We offer an initial, confidential appointment tailored to address your questions and guide you in the right direction, whether you're embarking on a new HR journey or seeking expert advice and guidance on complex workplace issues.

This allows us to learn about your business goals and objectives; and for you to get to know our team and how we can support you to achieve those goals.

Our sessions are designed to:

  • understand your specific questions, covering your current situation, potential challenges in culture, behaviour, performance, diversity or inclusion, and any other concerns you may have.
  • Collaboratively assess your current landscape and outline actionable steps towards meaningful change, providing assurance and support along the way.
  • Most importantly establish a foundation for working together. We want you to feel confident that we are the right HR partner for you, because this is your business’ future you are about to invest in, so we need to get it right. 

We look forward to meeting you.


A-HA connects business and people in order to realise genuine value and worth. We have pioneered a new type of agency which revolutionises the human resource industry through our people, products and insight.


Sydney Office Suite 1, 281 Pacific Hwy North Sydney, 20600491 235 263Email Us

ABN: 21 600 655 365

© A Human Agency | A-HA! and, Copyright 2015-2024

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to A Human Agency and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The team at A Human Agency would like to acknowledge and pay respects to the traditional custodians of the land where our office is based, the Cammeraygal and Wallumedegal peoples of the Eora nation. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and celebrate the diversity of Aboriginal people and their ongoing cultures and connections to the lands and waters of NSW.