More than a fifth of women (21%) in the UK have considered a career in the trades in the past 12 months, according to new research.
The survey, carried out by service management software provider Powered Now, also showed that among that 21%, the most popular career choices were handywoman, bathroom and kitchen fitting, roofing, painting and decorating and extension provider.
Powered Now said it believes there is good reason for this increasing interest in the trades among women. Its research revealed that 15% of women currently working in the trades had seen their client demand reach a record high during the pandemic.
These findings are backed up by a survey carried out last year by Direct Line, which showed that there were more than twice as many women working in trade professions as there were 10 years ago, including electricians, plumbers and construction workers.
With separate research from analyst Kantar showing that the home improvement market is now worth around £4.94 billion – up £552 million from last year – Powered Now says the time is right for women to pursue a career in the trades.
Powered Now chief executive Ben Dyer said: “The pandemic has highlighted that the trades are a haven for employment, and perhaps an unexpected catalyst to help move the industry closer to gender parity. It isn’t often that you associate International Women’s Day with construction, but hopefully people will start to recognise the careers that are indeed available to women.
“As more women pursue careers in the trades, it will help to dismantle the trope that manual labour is just for men. We have found that existing businesses in the trades run by women can often be the most innovative, with female-only trade SMEs providing a service for those who are uneasy who they allow in their homes. We would like to use this celebratory day to recognise the innovation that women bring to our sector, and hope that 2021 is a year in which we see these trends continue to flourish.”
Commenting on women in the trades in the UK, Damian Walters, chief executive of the British Institute of KBB Installation (BiKBBI), said: “Quite simply, females remain grossly under-represented in the home-improvement industry in general, however KBB installation seems to be more so than some other trades, for example electrical and plumbing.
“There are a number of reasons for this gender imbalance, none more so than simply a stereotypical perception on trades in general. It is traditionally a male-dominated career, but there really is no reason why this should be the case in 2021!”
Walters highlights the decline in popularity of vocational learning and apprenticeships as one of the main historical reasons for the gender imbalance the industry now faces in the trades.
He added: “The promotion of KBB installation opportunities to women is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. The more women we can encourage into the trade the better, which perhaps will even help to positively change consumer perception of tradespeople generally?”
Acknowledging the importance of promoting apprenticeships, he said: “Our work on apprenticeships, in conjunction with Charlton Athletic Women’s Football Club, includes the creation of a female-only apprenticeship cohort – a first for this sector, which fully demonstrates our support for women in our industry.
“KBB installation is an attractive career, regardless of gender, and one that provides the opportunity for those willing to learn, a great life and excellent commercial prospect.”