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A need for women in STEM training and employment

A need for women in STEM training and employment

Female apprentices are the minority.

Unfortunately, recent figures released by Science and Innovation Minister Ian Walker show more than double the number of males than females are enrolled in STEM subjects at schools in Queensland.

Addressing this troubling figure is a crucial factor in bridging future skills shortages, Mr Walker explained. Particularly as some subjects reported much larger gender imbalances, such as only 26 per cent of Year 11 Physics students being female.

“The latest data from Microsoft shows that 80 per cent of jobs globally in the next decade will require technology skills, while [STEM] occupations are growing by 17 per cent,” Mr Walker revealed in a May 21 statement.

“If young women don’t embrace these subjects, they’re cancelling themselves out of many career opportunities while they’re still in the classroom.”

Similar results are being discovered in employment statistics, particularly concerning trade industries. Research from the NSW Women in Trades organisation found that in 2011, just 14 per cent of the technicians and trade workforce were female. Furthermore, only around 2 per cent of construction, automotive and electrical trade workers in Australia today are women.

The ratio of women to men in apprenticeships in Queensland in particularly troubling, with females representing just 7.7 per cent of the total training population. This may be because of the state’s high employment numbers in historically male-dominated sectors, such as mining, resources and agriculture.

As many industries face potential skills shortages over the coming years, it is crucial that employers and training providers are not missing out on half of the workforce. Gaining access to the talented female workers may be a challenge, however.

Due to the majority of training decisions being made in school, encouraging women into trades needs to occur early in their potential careers. This could include offering school-based apprenticeships in trade industries to the female student population.

By showing female students that they have options within trade and technical-based industries, they may be encouraged to undergo further study and training in STEM subjects. Approaching these individuals while they are still in school is an effective way to ensure they receive the training and education they need before attempted to enter the open workforce.

By Leanne de Toerkenczy, Public Relations Coordinator

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