Career Woman

Why hiring women in skilled trades is a win-win situation

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Women are making a big impact in the skilled trades and will play an important role in the future of blue collar America. But it isn’t only women who benefit from choosing a career in the skilled trades. Employers have a lot to gain by seeking out women to represent their company’s workforce.

Following are just four of the many reasons why hiring women into skilled trade positions is a win-win situation for all involved.

Closing the Skilled Labor Gap

After eight straight years of economic growth, the primary concern in many states is not a lack of jobs, but a severe shortage of skilled workers. This is clearly evident in the skilled trades industry, where demand for blue collar workers with specialized training is continuing to grow.

A 2017 report by the Associated General Contractors of America estimates that 70% of employers in construction and skilled trades industry say they are having a hard time finding skilled workers.

How serious is this labor shortage? According to the Society for Human Resource Management, six out of every ten positions in manufacturing alone are going unfilled as a result of the growing skills gap. If this trend continues on its current course, more than 6 million jobs could be unfilled by the year 2020.

The top five professions that are set to face the greatest labor shortage are carpentry and millwork; electrical work; HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair; boiler making; concrete finishing and masonry; and ironwork, according to a report by McGraw-Hill Construction.

HVAC technicians will be in extremely high demand for the foreseeable future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for heating and air conditioning specialists will grow by 14 percent through 2024, much faster than average.

These jobs will be particularly hard to fill because of the specialized training involved. HVACR systems are becoming more complex all the time and must meet federally-mandated efficiency standards. Trade schools offer certification programs that range in length from six months to a year. Vocational training centers understand that women will play a crucial role in closing the labor gap. The Refrigeration School, for instance, offers a Women in Skilled Trades scholarship to get more women interested in the trades.

Boosting diversity

Construction companies are required by federal law to make a good faith effort to increase the participation of skilled tradeswomen in the industry. Even so, diversifying your employee base is not just about fulfilling legal requirements. Men and women may have different outlooks, and combining them could lead to fresh perspectives and increased innovation in the construction and manufacturing process.

The vast majority of employers do not want a gender-dominated workforce. The country is quickly outgrowing the notion that carpentry, HVAC, welding or any other trade is a “man’s job.” Companies understand that enforcing such stereotypes isn’t good for customer retention or employee recruitment.

Increasing customer satisfaction

Allowing women to have a say in the design and creation of products that are likely to be sold to women is a wise idea, as tradeswomen likely understand what other women need and want and can offer ideas and suggestions that will increase product efficacy. These ideas may include simple, cosmetic changes to a product that would increase its appeal to women or ideas for completely new products tailored to meet the needs of this particular gender.

It is no secret that women shop more frequently than men, driving between 70 and 80 percent of all consumer purchasing. However, companies would do well to consider the fact that women not only buy what they need; they also buy goods and services for their children, husbands, and elderly parents. Marketing to a woman has been accurately described as marketing to multiple individuals at once, and while skilled tradeswomen are not likely to be part of the sales process, they could be integral to designing the successful products that a marketing team would need in order to boost sales and profits.

Reaping the benefits

Naturally, women also benefit greatly from receiving training in a skilled trade and finding work as a welder, electrician, carpenter, or a similar profession. Skilled trade careers typically enable women to enter the workforce faster and with less debt than careers requiring years of study at a university. The median annual wage for welders, HVAC technicians and electricians is significantly higher than that offered by traditionally female-dominated employment options like childcare, administrative assistance, and bookkeeping. Plus, working in a skilled trade offers a woman an ideal platform to eventually branch out and start her own business.

At the same time, businesses have much to gain by hiring women to do skilled trade work. Benefits include diversification, increased innovation, and the avoidance of labor shortages. While there certainly could be challenges involved in integrating women into a workforce traditionally occupied by men, the benefits are more than worth it for all involved.

About Kathy Jackson

kathyj@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Kathy Jackson is a freelance writer covering a variety of topics from the US.

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