Release type: Media Release


Gender imbalance in workforce contributing to skills shortages


The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Skills and Training

Analysis from Jobs and Skills Australia shows that occupations with skills shortages are likely to have significant gender imbalance in their workforce, particularly towards male-dominated occupations. 
For more than half of occupations in national shortage, women make up less than 20 per cent of their total workforce.

These occupations include Metal Fitters and Machinists (1% female workforce); Motor Mechanics (2% female workforce); Electricians (2% female workforce); Mining Engineers (14% female workforce); Construction Managers (14% female workforce); and Software and Applications Programmers (19% female workforce).

In contrast, for 14 per cent of occupations in national shortage, men make up less than 20 per cent of their total workforce.

These occupations include Early Childhood Teachers (2% male workforce); Child Carers (3% male workforce); and Registered Nurses (12% male workforce).

The analysis from JSA shows that shortages are less common in occupations that don’t have such a large gender imbalance in their workforce.

These occupations, where skills shortages are less common include Solicitors (54% female workforce); Accountants (54% female workforce); Sales and Marketing Managers (58% male workforce); and Café and Restaurant Managers (54% female workforce).
According to Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, the data points to a systemic problem for workers, business, and the economy.
“It may sound obvious, but when half of the population fails to be considered, skills shortages in the workforce can be exacerbated.

“Acknowledging the gender imbalance in workplaces, behavioural barriers and improving workforce diversity in certain occupations will reduce the likelihood of skills shortages and open up the potential for improved wages and working conditions.

“We need women to start seeing other women regularly in construction jobs and men seeing other men working in aged care facilities to encourage more people to follow that path. Because if you can’t see it, it’s hard to imagine being it.

This is particularly true for the apprenticeship workforce.

Although the proportion of women in trade apprenticeships is slowly increasing, women are under-represented in almost all traditional trade occupations, representing 12.2 per cent of all trade apprentices.

Women in trade who have withdrawn from their apprenticeship cite a lack of support in the workplace as a key reason for cancelling.

That’s why the Albanese Government is providing more support for women once they enter a trade, while assisting career advisors so they can direct more women into non-traditional trades.

The Government has committed to setting targets that will drive up demand for women participating in apprenticeships, traineeships and cadetships.

This includes the Australian Skills Guarantee, which will ensure that one in ten workers on major, Australian Government funded projects are an apprentice, trainee or paid cadet. This will also include specific targets for women, as well as a focus on digital skills.

Each year the Government spends billions of dollars on major projects that employ tens of thousands of workers. The Guarantee will help to build the pipeline of women into male dominated industries like building and construction, and aims to reduce the gender segregation that exists in these industries and sectors.