New campaign launched to get ‘Women on the Tools’ and into trade jobs

‘Women on the Tools’ is aiming to increase the number of women embarking on careers in trade roles.  Currently, around 11 percent of the 1.5 million people working in the construction-related industries are women, yet only 2 percent are employed in manual trades.

The campaign is targeting dramatically increasing this number to ensure women make up 50 percent of all those working in manual trades.

‘Women on the Tools’ will be engaging with schools, colleges and employers to raise awareness of the range of good quality manual careers across sectors, which also include the automotive and horticulture industries.

The campaign has been devised by charity organisation, Women and Manual Trades, and has been launched to mark the 40th anniversary of the organisation.  The charity works to provide information and guidance to women and employers running mentoring programmes.

It is also introducing a new project-based consultancy service, Women on the Tools Consulting, to help employers in the construction, building trades and maintenance sectors attract more tradeswomen.

The service will design and deliver bespoke consultancy packages for organisations wanting to increase engagement with women.

‘Women on the Tools’ has already attracted support from industry including the UK’s best-known plumber, Charlie Mullins.  The Pimlico Plumbers’ founder has also become a patron of the charity.

Mullins said: “The manual trades offer some fantastic career opportunities with good earning potential, but unfortunately there’s a perception that these jobs are not for women.  A Pimlico plumber can earn anything up to £100,000 a year, which is more than respectable and girls should be encouraged to look at practical and fulfilling careers on the tools.

“We’re always on the lookout for women tradespeople, but there just aren’t the numbers we want.  In my experience the women we have employed on the tools have been as talented and as committed as their male counterparts.   Schools, colleges, parents and employers need to show a united front that there really is an even playing field and the door is open for more women to become tradespeople.”

Andrea Kelmanson, Chief Executive of Women in Manual Trades, said: “It’s disappointing that fewer than 2% of tradespeople on the tools are women because they can have a real impact on businesses.

There is a major shortage of skilled workers in the Construction, Building Trades and Maintenance sectors, but no-one thinks about inviting women in, despite the fact that in the domestic market, many customers prefer tradeswomen in their homes.

“Women on the Tools will change the cultural perception of careers in the trades and needs schools, colleges need to support the campaign to attract more young women onto trade-related training courses that will create a larger group of candidates for employers.”

Among the 2 percent of women in manual trades is 19-year-old Chloe Sayer from Reading who is a plumbing apprentice with Pimlico Plumbers in Central London.  When she left school her first priority when choosing a career was to find an industry where she would never be out of work.

Sayer says, “I wanted a stable job, and plumbing certainly is that. The fact that I was learning trade, which is totally transferable that could take me anywhere in the world was also a massive appeal. I was lucky that had a few personal connections who could point me in the right direction of how to go about entering the industry, and the advice I received in school wasn’t all that helpful.

“There was very much an attitude that manual trades were for boys, and professions like nursing were aimed at girls. I’d say to any woman looking to get into a trade that they should go for it – do what you want to do and don’t listen to any negativity. The reaction that I’ve had from family, friends and most importantly the customers I meet has been incredibly positive, and I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve bucked the trend and secured a great job and great career.”