On 29th June 2021, WOMEN’STEC and Equality Commission for Northern Ireland held an online seminar that explored ways of increasing access for girls and women into non-traditional work, with a focus on construction and technology.
The seminar looked at new research commissioned by WOMEN’STEC exploring successful interventions designed to increase the participation of girls and women in construction. It also looked at the gender gap in apprenticeships in Northern Ireland, and how employers can use positive action provisions in relation to increasing the number of girls and women in STE industries.
The research piece discovered that only 16% of the workforce in the construction and technology industries were female. Men also represented over 98% of apprenticeships in construction, engineering, transport operations, and maintenance frameworks in Northern Ireland.
This represents a significant opportunity for girls and women for lucrative careers in these industries provided the barriers to access are addressed.
Employers, educators, and influencers can help to reduce these barriers by working towards:
Changing stereotypes at all ages in practical ways
Creating engagement using practical/hands-on experiences
Developing good awareness of the organisations delivering effective interventions (job centres, charities, DWP etc.)
Providing opportunities to try out different roles through short-term work experience
Continuous support and development for women in the workplace
Providing working conditions that support women and girls
Providing in situ role models
By removing these barriers, and improving access and support, more women and girls will have access to employment in an industry in which skills shortages are apparent.