When an electrician comes to your door, a woman is not what you expect on the other side. You probably won’t be wrong, but that may change soon.
Skilled trades job are for women, too, and so is the lucrative career that goes with it.
Today more than 8,300 skilled trade jobs need to be filled in Michigan and 6,700 jobs will be open every year from now until 2022. The jobs most in need are electricians, machinists, industrial machinery mechanics, carpenters and welders. The door is wide open for women to join the ranks. Check it out, the pay very good.
In Michigan the wages for skilled trades range between $11.95 and $33.67 an hour, or a median income of $20.66 an hour, says Ken Silfven, director of communication for the Talent Investment Agency. That compares with a median wage of $16.70 per hour for workers in general in Michigan. The national average pay for an apprentice graduate is $50,000, which is around half of what a journeyman makes.
“Women’s full participation in skilled, good paying jobs is more than an equity issue,” Silfven says. “Almost uniformly, nontraditional jobs pay much better and offer better benefits women usually find themselves in. Expanding women’s access to non-traditional jobs in skilled trades can increase opportunities for rewarding careers, economic security, and filling job openings with highly skilled workers.”
Nationally in 2014, only 3 percent of all skilled trades workers were women. In comparison, in 2014, 47 percent of all workers were women.
“Although women make up almost half of the nation’s workforce, they remain significantly underrepresented in many high-paying, high-demand occupations, especially technical skilled trades fields,” Silfven says.
With that in mind the US Dept. of Labor Women’s Bureau is sponsoring an hour-long webinar on women and apprenticeship on Wednesday, April 27, at 2:00 pm. Advocates, workforce and employment specialists, and individuals interested in learning more about how apprenticeship can work for women and provide women with on the paid job training in a high demand career are encouraged to attend.
Much of the apprenticeship webinar’s content will be stressing the benefits of “non-traditional” employment for women, says Elizabeth Thompson, director of program, Michigan Women’s Commission.
The webinar comes at a time when skilled trades are more in demand than ever and the opportunity for women to take those jobs is huge. Even so, while women are fairly well-represented in service-sector trades, such as health care, they are seriously underrepresented in industrial and construction trades. No one is sure why that’s the case.
“Whether it is from a lack of opportunity for women, due to nepotism and narrow advertising, the face of skilled trades and apprenticeship has been white males or a lack of interest from women, due to skilled trades being perceived as dirty, dangerous, too physically demanding, gender stereotypes, lack of outreach and information, limited selection criteria, and the challenge of being a pioneer in a traditionally male work environment, skilled trades remain a male dominated field,” says Silfven.
Along with encouraging women to join the skilled trades workforce, Governor’s Snyder’s Skilled Trades Campaign is working to get young people interested in that career. The campaign includes a website, which has been developed to promote and showcase in-demand opportunities in skilled trades careers. The site features myth busters regarding skilled trades as well as a series of videos targeting K-12 students and showing that skilled trades are good, sustainable career paths. There are also resources to learn more, such as information about apprenticeships.
In addition, the State of Michigan’s Early Middle-College Initiative provides a fast track to skilled labor and starts at the high school level. Students can participate in work-based learning, such as apprenticeships and gain marketable credentials. The program provides a 5-year high-school experience in which students earn a high-school diploma, associate degree, technical certification and transferrable college credits, and participate in a registered apprenticeship.
To keep the idea of a skilled trades career in the minds of young women the Women’s Bureau webinar has been shared with career counselors on the high school level, with women’s resources centers on the postsecondary level, and others.
The US Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau also has a new website https://www.dol.gov/wb/NTO/ with the theme “Women Build, Protect, and Move America” that has resources for those looking to find out more about non-traditional occupations, for workers, employers, and researchers.
With increased competition both foreign and domestic, companies wish to grow their own talent of skilled laborers. With such pressure and all the jobs need to be filled this is a great time for women to become leaders in skilled trades.
To find out how other women have found rewarding careers in skilled trades click here.
If you’re interested in pursuing a skilled trades job you can register for the web address at Apprenticeship Webinar.
— Top photo from the Workforce Development Agency website.