The baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) included 69.56 million U.S. residents in 2019. Many of these baby boomers work in skilled trade industries but most are nearing retirement age. As reported by The Washington Post, this is beginning to cause a labor shortage in these industries and employers are attempting to turn to an untapped and capable labor resource: women.
Hiring tradeswomen helps to diversify the workforce and brings in skilled and experienced talent. However, companies may find it challenging to attract and recruit this small population. Only 2% of the Iron Workers union members are women, according to the Washington Post article linked above.
To attract tradeswomen, skilled labor employers must properly advertise appealing job opportunities, highlight important employee benefits, and build an equal opportunity work environment.
Making a Commitment
Whether you’re a licensed contractor looking for new talent or in another trade industry, you must make the commitment to attract and retain women in your labor force. This means analyzing your current processes, procedures, and work environment to ensure it’s all-inclusive and welcoming to tradeswomen.
To ensure your company is committed to diversifying its workforce, be sure to:
- Design and implement recruitment strategies that specifically target tradeswomen.
- Create awareness training programs for current employees to implement an inclusive and inviting work environment.
- Develop internal strategies and procedures for comprehensive communication about job concerns between tradeswomen and supervisors, co-workers, or project managers.
- Analyze and update current respect and harassment policies to ensure they incorporate your company’s no-tolerance policy.
When you commit to creating an environment that’s comfortable for all workers with defined policies and processes, it makes your company more desirable for job candidates.
Exposure and Outreach
If you find that your recruitment strategies attract mostly male job applicants, it’s time to update and redefine these strategies. If you’re attempting to recruit more tradeswomen to your company, your marketing and promotional materials should reflect this goal.
Women are more likely to be drawn to your company if your promotional materials include photos and stories of current female workers who are excelling at your company. Once you’ve developed these female-focused recruitment materials and descriptions, consider attending:
- Job fairs.
- Networking events.
- Work source center open houses.
- Community outreach events.
Place your promotional materials at the sites where you know women will see them.
Vocational training schools, high schools, and community colleges are also great locations to visit. Ask to speak to classes that are learning the skills used in your industry.
If you already have a tradeswoman working with you, consider asking if she’d also attend these events or visit schools as the spokeswoman for your company. When a female employee speaks to this audience about her passion for the industry and job enjoyment, the message can be more personal and candid and may be received differently than written marketing materials would be, functioning more like a testimonial or a review and carrying similar benefits for your recruiting campaign.
Education and Training
Women are more attracted to jobs when they know they’ll have access to educational resources and on-the-job training. Not only will training programs potentially attract more tradeswomen, they’re also beneficial to your company’s profit. Companies that invest in comprehensive training programs see a 24% average increase in profit, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
Orientations, internships, and job shadowing are helpful strategies for tradeswomen who are considering careers in your industry. WIth thoughtful programs, you may attract and retain new job applicants who are excited to gain experience and education at your company.
In addition to an internal training and educational program, offering financial support and guidance for tradeswomen who want to improve their skills and abilities is also crucial. For example, you may offer apprenticeship opportunities to help an employee earn her electrical contractor license. You may assign a mentor to guide a tradeswoman through the process of obtaining her plumbing license as an employment perk.
Although you may have the proper liability insurance and worker’s compensation policy in place, preventing workplace injuries is important for employee attraction and retention. Implement strict safety protocols and continuing education requirements. Offer adequate personal protection equipment and training on when and how to use it to keep workers safe.
Tradeswomen who are new to the industry may not be aware of the certificates of insurance that may be required for certain jobs. Provide training on bond insurance and other common project requirements. Experienced employees can assist newer tradeswomen in contacting bond companies to obtain the proper credentials. Supporting tradeswomen so they’re bonded and insured opens them up to more opportunities in the industry.
Targeted Marketing and Advertising
Your marketing and advertising should emphasize an equal opportunity workplace culture and should highlight your current female workers to show your diverse workforce. If you have available employment opportunities and want to recruit tradeswomen to fill these jobs, consider posting advertisements in trade industry magazines, or at local fitness centers, community centers, schools, and community bulletin boards.
Make the application process simple to complete and consider inviting job candidates in for a tour and/or interview. Provide a comprehensive job description and accurately outline the ideal candidate’s qualifications, such as the completion of a training program or relevant industry experience.
Benefits and Support
In your promotional materials and job advertisements, make it clear that your company honors workers’ rights and provides an equal opportunity work environment. Provide information on the benefits and wages offered and be sure your benefits package is inclusive to women, including items such as maternity leave options, comprehensive health insurance plans, or flexible schedules. Highlight your educational programs and room for advancement, as well as improvements in compensation that are provided over time.
Leadership and Skills Development
By placing an emphasis on developing your workers’ skills, it’s more likely that these employees will stay with your company long-term. When you hire tradeswomen, give them the opportunity to advance and build upon their skillset with comprehensive development programs.
You’re more likely to recruit and retain tradeswoman talent when you have plenty of opportunities for advancement into leadership roles, as well as access to the internal training needed to qualify for these roles.
If your company is focused on diversifying your workforce to include tradeswomen, your marketing materials and recruitment strategies should support your mission. By proving you have an inclusive work environment with opportunities for advancement, you can attract and retain talented tradeswomen who add value to your labor force.