Women in the Trades

Take a hammer to the industry’s glass ceiling by learning trades skills. Women like you are already enjoying the opportunities that practical skills provide. You’ll earn money while you learn, do hands-on work that keeps you fit and have skills that are in demand by employers.

Women make up half the population but still hold less than 12% of trades jobs. But that’s changing, and more and more wahine are joining the industry. That’s good news, because we need more women like you in the trades.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) estimates there’ll be 56,000 new jobs in construction by 2029 – far more than the 24,000 jobs created in the past decade. Having more women in the trades will play a big part in meeting the long-term skills shortage in the industry.

Train together

If you’re thinking of learning a trade, you won’t be alone. More and more women are joining the sector and finding fulfilling, practical work. Plus, it’s a great environment for making friends. Trades work often involves working closely as a team, so no matter who you’re working with, communication and people skills will be a huge asset.

“My first perception was, oh, it’s a male-dominated trade. I didn’t know if I was going to be welcome. But everyone’s been really helpful, really kind and approachable. All my doubts that I had in the beginning have been pointless.”
Elaine Pereira, automotive apprentice

“I work with a supervisor and a number of workers, so there’s always support there. There’s always someone to talk to if you have any problems in the workplace.”
Toni Rhind, mechanical engineering apprentice


Flexible work options

If you have young children, it can be tough to juggle work and family time. But there are plenty of parents working in the trades, and most employers will be willing to compromise a bit on hours if you’re a good worker.

“I asked my boss whether I could do shorter hours. I just explained the situation and told him it was because of my daughter’s school hours, and he was okay with it. It was pretty nerve-wracking approaching my boss, but I just had to do it. You can only ask.”
Mahalia O’Conner, automotive apprentice


Join the movement. MPTT trainees meet other women on the job at a worksite visit.


Career Prospects

Skilled tradespeople are enjoying secure, well-paid work. With the shortage of qualified tradespeople in Aotearoa, there’ll be even more jobs to choose from in future.

Trades projects are usually a team effort, so your skills could lead to a variety of roles. Many tradespeople also become managers or start their own kaipakihi (business).

“I will be the first tradie in my family. I see myself owning my own business one day, even becoming a tutor. It will be a way of giving back.”
Hera Eruera, plumbing apprentice


But don't I need to be really strong?

Some women worry they’re not strong enough for trades work. But the truth is, women who do physical work can get stronger than guys who sit at a computer all day. Most trainees – regardless of gender – grow their strength and fitness on the job, and the really heavy lifting is usually done by machines.

Besides, being a great tradesperson is more about brains than brawn. Employers are looking for team players with good communication and problem solving skills, along with initiative and great attention to detail.

“I think the trades is for everyone. Women can do it. I really didn’t think I could do this but I’m doing it today and I love it. I know some women think strength is an issue but you can build your strength up on the job.”
Kelsie McKenna, carpentry trainee

“Where I’m working, they treat women just like they treat the men. I think sometimes men underestimate women’s ability to do physical jobs, but actually women can do all of those physical things too.”
Toni Rhind, mechanical engineering apprentice


Employing women is good for business

Increasing the number of women in the trades industry is one of our biggest priorities. We’re working alongside our partners to recruit more women trainees and ensure trades training is gender inclusive.

Employers in the trades find hiring women as well as men:

  • Helps address worker shortages
  • Means they choose from a bigger pool of workers, so they get the best people
  • Means customers may choose their business because they employ women

“A lot of residential employers I’ve talked to say elderly people like women electricians. They’d rather wait a couple of months for a woman to be available than have a man to do the work.”
Marama Amber de Rungs, electrical trainee

“We do notice women are often quite detail-oriented, which is an asset in the trades.”
Kelly Henshaw, service manager at Trucks and Trailers


How we can help

Our wahine are thriving in the trades. They’re top trainees, high-performing apprentices, and leaders in their workplaces. Every day, they’re building our houses, businesses and roads while changing the stereotype that women aren’t into doing physical work.

Want to join them? We’re here to help. If you’re Maori or Pasifika and age 16-40, you could qualify for a scholarship from Maori and Pasifika Trades Training Auckland. We won’t just pay your course fees; we’ll also give you one-on-one mentoring to help you reach your goals, and even help you find work in your trade.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people that go through the pre-trades haven’t had much support going forward with their career. And something I felt really helped me is that I had very strong support from MPTT.”
Toni Rhind, mechanical engineering apprentice

To get a scholarship, you’ll first need to choose a trade and enroll in your pre-trades course – but we can help you with that too. To let us know you’re interested in getting an MPTT Auckland scholarship, fill out our quick contact form and we’ll be in touch.

Get in touch