17 September 2018: The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union will lead a delegation of female apprentices to Canberra today to meet with MPs about the exodus of women out of the trade-based apprenticeships.
Data from National Centre for Vocational Education Research shows that female commencements in apprenticeships and traineeships have plummeted by 40% since 2013 as the federal government has cut $3 billion out of the vocational education and training sector. Apprentices are now half as likely to complete their apprenticeships as they were in 2013. Many women also complain of the difficult workplace culture they face in male-dominated workplaces.
Cypress Faludi, a second-year apprentice boilermaker from Tasmania, spent almost five years applying for apprenticeships. She finally landed a job at a local shipbuilding company where she is the only female on the factory floor out of a workforce of over 600.
Stephanie Arnold, a 2nd year apprentice electrician at Garden Island in Sydney, agreed to move from Melbourne after she was unable to find apprenticeship opportunities in her state.
The women hope to shine a light on the crisis affecting the vocational education sector and highlight the acute impact it has on women.
As part of their meetings, the apprentices will be calling on the Government and the Opposition to do the following to reverse the female commencement crisis:
- Reverse the $3 billion funding cut to the VET Sector
- Implement a quota of 40% female apprentices on Commonwealth priority projects and require gender balance reporting for government tender projects
- Create a national female apprenticeship network that would create mentoring and networking opportunities for female apprentices in male-dominated trades
Quotes from Paul Bastian, AMWU National Secretary:
“If we want to encourage more women to start and stay in their apprenticeship, then it’s incumbent on Government, unions, and employers to work together to make that happen.”
“This is a fundamental issue of equality. We need to create workplaces where women have the opportunity to build skills for career advancement. We also must create an environment where women feel safe and have somewhere to turn when they are being treated unfairly.”