What's The Problem?

February 10, 2022

What's The Problem?

Less than 5% of skilled manual trades workers are female. On the surface this might not appear to be a huge issue. Maybe women just aren’t interested in trades?

You don’t have to look far to see where the problems lie…

The killer stat in all of this is that women can miss out on £600,000 of lifetime earnings by not pursuing a career in the trades. In fact in areas like London it could be as much as £1million — which I think we can all agree is a serious chunk of change. If we look at the apprenticeship statistics you’ll see that young women are considerably more likely to pursue apprenticeships in areas such as child care, health and social care or hair and beauty. Child care apprenticeships are still 95% dominated by women and tend to lead to careers as nursery or care workers paying around £20,000 a year. Construction apprenticeships, by contrast, are 95% male dominated and lead to careers as plumbers, carpenters or decorators. A plumber in London, employed by a firm, can expect to earn an average of £39,000 a year.

In our example above that earning disparity of £19,000 a year over a 40 year career means the plumber (95% likelihood of being male) will take home £760,000 more in their working life, than the nursery worker (95% likelihood of being female). Of course, there are other factors in play and these headline stats only tell so much of the story, but what we can see is a pattern of women being shuffled along into industries that pay significantly less than those that currently attract men. The reasons for this are myriad; social conditioning, media imagery, parental expectations and role models can all make a young woman feel her natural place is in a nursery or care home and not installing a boiler or re-wiring a house.

This problem will only get worse as time goes by. Trades have a big problem with supply and demand, there are simply not enough skilled trades workers to meet the growing demand for them. Brexit has and will continue to strip the UK of trade talent. A significant portion of current skilled manual trades workers will retire in the next 10–15 years, and there aren’t apprentices coming through to fill their places. This, combined with a growing population, more housing stock and no real technological disruption to the industry will inevitably lead to price (wage) rises for plumbers, electricians and so on. This article by The Guardian highlights the situation for kitchen fitters (avg salary £34,000), where 30% of the trade will retire in the next 10 years and demand is at an all time high. Failure to act now will see the chasm in earning opportunities grow larger and larger.

The aim of TaskHer is to showcase women in skilled manual trades, allowing homeowners to easily book their services for domestic repairs, maintenance and improvements. By highlighting their success and enabling access to great tradeswomen our hope is to inspire a new generation of women, of all ages, that they can pick up tools and carve out an exciting and rewarding career for themselves.

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