Solutions for Shortages in the Techs & Trades
Solutions for Shortages in the Techs & Trades<< Back
A recent report* by the TechForce Foundation shows a rising demand for technicians and trades workers, with estimations for jobs in certain industries far exceeding the amount of skilled workers who will complete certifications in time to meet the demand. One figure from the report indicates that automotive, collision and diesel technicians need to increase by fivefold to match the increasing number of positions in the field over the next 5 years. Where can additional workers be found? The answer also lies in the numbers: women — who comprise 52% of the population — only account for 2.5% of employed technicians. By working together, the men, women, and companies who employ them can create a stronger and highly competent community of technicians to make the tech shortage a thing of the past.
The TechForce Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that brings together students, working techs, instructors and industry professionals who are committed to powering the technician workforce. TechForce is committed to enabling career exploration and workforce development for technician professionals across all industry sectors (auto, diesel, aviation, collision, restoration, motorcycle, motorsports, marine, welding and emerging technologies). Its mission is to champion all students to and through their technical education and into careers as professional technicians. WD-40 Company is a proud sponsor of TechForce and this blog is written in partnership with the organization to help provide support for businesses in all industry sectors who urgently need more technicians – now or in the future.
Women in Tech
Those watching the numbers can see that the tech worker shortages are worsening each year, especially in sectors such as transportation, and action is needed to turn the trend around. One of the most obvious solutions under proposal is simple: hire more women technicians and trade workers. Roadblocks certainly exist, but TechForce Foundation’s “Women Techs Rock” initiative determined to discover how increase the percentage. By learning from current women workers in tech & trades industries and identifying trends, deficiencies and opportunities in specific industries, the initiative found a number of potential solutions to help close the gap.
The TechForce Women Techs Rock initiative started with a focus on women technicians working in automotive, aviation and other segments of the transportation industry. The report sought out 31 unique women techs with ages ranging from 19 to nearly 60 who worked in different regions across the United States as well as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Experience levels of the workers spanned the spectrum from apprentice to retired professional.
A major factor inhibiting a more prominent role for women in the techs & trades is how these positions are perceived by our society. In the transportation sector, technicians are often portrayed as dirty and greasy in culture & the media. These depictions act as major deterrents for women interested in becoming technicians and bring additional challenges for women working in a male-dominated field. Some statistics found during the report showed:
- 93% of women techs were discouraged from becoming a technician when they were children/teenagers
- Over 50% found their careers later in life and through non-traditional means compared to male technicians
- 81% of women techs believe the appeal of working in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) will attract more women
- 100% of women techs who attended tech school experienced bias while pursuing their education
- 100% of women techs want to be valued and respected for her skills, not her gender.
Bringing more women into tech & trade professions opens an opportunity for a dramatic increase in talented and passionate technicians. While training and education forms one piece of the puzzle, work environments in companies and organizations can act to enhance their ability to successfully attract, retain and grow more women techs. One key strategy is to create a positive work culture that promotes equitable treatment by paying men and women equal salaries based on experience, offering the same benefits and opportunities for advancement. Aside from salary and benefits, companies and organizations can make impactful strides towards identifying, addressing and eliminating biases currently keeping many women out of the workforce.
The TechForce Women Techs Rock initiative proposes several action items to companies & organizations ready to help bring women into the fold as valuable contributors to the techs & trades:
- Offer training and educational opportunities at the same rate as they are offered to men
- Establish apprenticeship/mentorship opportunities to help women techs further refine their skills
- Elevate equally qualified women techs at the same rate as men techs via professional development opportunities
- Develop a career path that includes positions for women techs while they are pregnant and when they return to work after having children
- Highlight women techs in your organization by submitting them to Women Techs Rock
More than simply diversifying on paper, companies & organizations that recognize and celebrate differences experience gains in customer retention, increased profitability, and greater innovation, creativity, and problem solving. Men, women, and people of all kinds are different, and that’s a good thing – bringing together different strengths and backgrounds creates a stronger community of technicians, a more attractive work environment, and a more qualified workforce.
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*This blog is written in partnership with the TechForce Foundation and features information gathered in the “Women Techs Report” white paper. Visit this site to read the full report.