By Northern Sydney Institute construction and engineering faculty manager Pat Vella
For many years, the energy sector has been seen as very male-focused. Times are changing. The number of female tradies in the energy sector is set to rise. Young female trailblazers are realising that becoming a tradie is financially and personally rewarding. And, as the Australian energy sector becomes more complex due to climate change, there will continue to be opportunities for women to make a real difference.
Electricians make up the single largest trade in Australia but women account for less than 1.5 per cent of electricians around the country, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This suggests that women are not aware of the value they can provide to the trade, nor are they aware of the outstanding job opportunities and earning potential.
Women are ideally suited to many trades in energy, particularly if they have an eye for detail, and enjoy problem-solving and working outside an office environment.
Employers face a skills shortage that is not showing any sign of letting up. By attracting more women to these trades, employers can begin to resolve the skills shortage. In the meantime, demand for skilled workers means wages are likely to be relatively high. At the moment, the Australian energy sector is less able to innovate because one gender is so under-represented in the talent pool.
The energy sector is tackling a wide range of important challenges, from keeping the lights on to helping consumers reduce energy waste and building a more sustainable low-carbon future. Industry competitiveness relies on a diverse pool of talent capable of bringing fresh perspectives.
This is particularly critical at the moment because the energy sector is one of the most important sectors for Australia. Making sure we have secure and sustainable energy supplies is absolutely paramount for us: the sector needs all the intelligence it can get from both men and women.
Working in the energy sector does not just mean becoming an electrician and fixing people’s light bulbs. Women can choose from a wide range of sub-sectors, such as petroleum and oil, gas, electrical, coal, nuclear power, and renewable energy. What’s more, the sector offers a substantial income, travelling opportunities, job security, career development and transferable skills that can last a lifetime. More will see the benefits working in the energy sector has to offer – it’s just a matter of time.