Queensland moves to support female apprentices

'We must remove these barriers so trainees and apprentices can confidently complete their training'

Queensland moves to support female apprentices

The Queensland government is stepping up to ensure that female tradies are protected in the workplace, as it accepted all 12 recommendations from a report of the Queensland Training Ombudsman.

The said report recommends several actions to ensure that all apprentices and trainees have supportive, health, and safe work environments.

"The report identifies enhancements that can be made to assist prospective employers, apprentices, and trainees; support apprentices, trainees, and their employers during the life of their training contract; and ensure that where intervention is required it happens in a coordinated and timely manner," said Queensland Training Ombudsman Geoff Favell in a statement.

Seven out of the 12 recommendations from the Queensland Training Ombudsman's report relate to female apprentices, as barriers for them continue to prevail in workplaces traditionally dominated by men.

"Unfortunately, we still have instances where trainees and apprentices, in particular women, are made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable in the workplace and this is simply not acceptable," Training and Skills Development Minister Di Farmer said, adding that female tradies' participation is only almost five per cent.

"We must remove these barriers so trainees and apprentices can confidently complete their training."

The recommendations detail ways on how to boost women's participation in the sector, while also calling on engagement with the Construction Skills Queensland, Energy Skills Queensland, the Furnishing industry, the Motor Trades Association of Queensland, and the upcoming Manufacturing Skills Queensland to develop strategies for the employment of more women.

Read more: Men out-earn women, study shows

In addition, services will also be made available for apprentices so they can receive direct individual support in order to narrow the gap between male and female apprentices.

"A Train to Retain Strategy will be implemented, which includes digital resources for apprentices and trainees and a triage service for all callers to the Apprentice Info Line to provide individual support," Farmer said.

"We need to make sure that all apprentices and trainees – Queensland's future workforce – have positive training experiences so they go on to complete their qualifications, are confident in their abilities and can secure employment."

Union welcomes decision

Following the announcement, Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union chief executive Ann-Marie Allan welcomed the government's steps, pointing out that they frequently receive help requests from female apprentices and trainees who were bullied and harassed at work.

"It's not a little fight on the job or a one-off incident, it's a consistent pattern of bad behaviour, bullying and sexual harassment," said Allan in a statement. "They get passed around because no one wants to take responsibility for it, and the damage gets even worse, it affects their dignity and self-respect."

"The culture overall needs to be looked at and I congratulate the government for taking action."

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