Training women in the trades

Ebru Bircan, the head of marketing at Grohe UK & Lixil EMENA, discusses the role of training programmes for women within the trades sector and how creating more opportunities for them can promote growth and success for all…

The trade sector has long been considered a male-dominated field, with women facing barriers to entry and advancement. Despite a growing number of gender diversity initiatives in the industry, much work remains to be done to create a more equitable workforce that benefits both current and future generations.

The current gender imbalance not only represents inequity, but also poses a threat to the growth and success of the industry, particularly given the ongoing shortages of skilled labourers and installers in the UK. To address this issue, it is crucial that we prioritise making the trades more inclusive for all women, tapping into their full potential, and fostering a more diverse workforce.

According to a 2022 Rated People report, less than 1% of carpenters and less than 2% of electricians and plumbers at present in the UK are female, which perpetuates gender inequalities, limits job opportunities for women, and hinders the overall competitiveness of the industry. Although there have been recent positive developments, such as a 27% increase in female admissions to trade courses in 2021 – according to vocational training course provider Access Training Provider UK – there is still a deeply-rooted stigma surrounding women’s ability to excel in these fields.

Encouraging women to pursue careers in the trade industry can help close the gender pay gap and create more job opportunities in high-paying and skilled roles, particularly as the industry is predicted to grow significantly in the coming years. Industry competitiveness and innovation will only be enhanced by including a wider range of diverse perspectives, as well as a broader pool of talent, helping to improve competitiveness in the global market, especially with the growing importance of technology and automation, which requires a highly skilled and diverse workforce.

The most key and practical way to level up women’s participation in the trade industry is by further establishing and providing women with more targeted opportunities, such as introductory events, training programmes, work experience and apprenticeships. At Grohe, we proudly champion and support plumbing schools across the UK and EMENA region with our GIVE Programme (GROHE Installer Vocational and Education Training). Aiding in the training and education of aspiring young installers by enhancing school facilities and setting up fully functioning installer-training spaces with modern equipment and training materials, the GIVE programme supports students all the way through training up until their final qualification, helping students in gaining work experience or placements post-graduation.

Illustration of a female installer

Most recently, the programme proudly acted as the headline sponsor of the debut Female Skills Competition 2023 run by HIP, the magazine for plumbing and heating students. The competition was created to provide a dedicated space for enthusiastic female plumbing and heating learners of all ages from colleges nationwide, allowing contestants to showcase their talent among comparable peers with two regional heats that consisted of live practical installations to test participant skills, leading to the exciting grand final.

Supporting the event was an absolute privilege, not only highlighting the above-par capabilities and skills of all young female talent involved, but also fostering a supportive culture that empowered and inspired participants as to why their place within the trade industry has not only been earned through their hard work, but, more importantly, is intrinsically needed. The level of skill on display only haloed just how important it is to enable and encourage young females to help build the foundations for a prosperous future through education and extracurricular activities within the field.

Breaking down barriers and promoting a more inclusive environment for women is essential to raise awareness of the benefits and possibilities of trade roles. Empowering and supporting women from the start of their training to their qualification and beyond is crucial. Providing access to education and training programmes, mentorship, and promoting a culture of inclusivity can help achieve this goal. By doing so, we can foster a more diverse workforce that enhances the industry’s competitiveness and drives innovation. A brighter future awaits us if we work together to make the trades a more inclusive and diverse field.

Home > Opinion > Training women in the trades