According to data from insurer AXA, the five ‘men’s jobs’ that are most in need of female recruits are: stonemason, heating engineer, plasterer, electrician and plumber.
Gardening is the first UK trade to see a significant number of women as AXA’s figures show a 27 per cent representation among business owners.
But despite the low numbers, women who do enter building trades are having a busy and prosperous time:
Average take-home pay for a tradeswoman is £1,660 (compared to £1,030 across professional, retail and service sectors working the same hours)
Two thirds say they are confident they will see business growth in 2017 (compared to 42 per cent average), and nine in ten rate their business as a success
Average hours worked by a tradeswoman is 41 per week, compared to the average of 32 hours per week for all other sectors.
Longer hours worked outside the home may make the trades less attractive for younger women who are juggling childcare with their work. Another reason put forward is that the traditional routes into the trades are outside the education system – through apprenticeships, on the job training or businesses passed from father to son (10 per cent of tradespeople inherited their firms).
“This means the trades are rarely promoted to girls when they are making their career choices, even though training to be a plumber or electrician could be as good –if not a better – option than university for many”, says Darrell Sansom, MD of AXA Business Insurance.
“There is also the stubborn persistence of the ‘cowboy builder’ headline in the media which is rarely balanced by the many positive stories of decent tradespeople that we see. Seventy-two per cent of women surveyed last year said they thought the ‘cowboy’ stereotype was true of tradespeople. There is definitely an image problem there, and it is deeply unfair.”