Why Trade Roles Need More Diversity

workplace diversity improvement needed gender equality trade jobs

Society has come a long way in the last 35 years, especially when it comes to diversity and equality. In a study released by Sky News in 2024, back in 1984 a full 42 per cent of people felt men should be the breadwinner of a family. The same respondents agreed that women ought to take the role of homemaker. But, just 35 years later, only 8 per cent of people believed that men should be breadwinners and women should be homemakers. 

But gender is only a small part of equality and diversity. Everything from age to race, religion to disability can factor into this topic. This is particularly relevant in terms of the workplace, as no one should be left out of a workplace. Luckily, we're seeing some fantastic stories coming from trade jobs lately, showcasing not only diversity at work, but success from it. 

Managing Quarries At 22 

The BBC reported on the success of Emily Burridge in 2024. Burridge had entered into the world of construction via an apprenticeship scheme. But this isn’t just an example of a woman getting her foot in the door to a stereotypically male-orientated industry. Burridge hasn’t just gotten into the sector — she’s excelled, making her a brilliant example of why the industry must recognise the importance of equality and diversity. 

Her success is certainly inspiring. At 22 years old, Burridge is a technical production manager, having worked on 25 quarries. Not only is she representing the women in a male-dominated sector, she’s also championing the case for age equality and diversity too. Though she is only in her early twenties, Burridge replaced a man who was of retirement age. Even though her staff are mostly older men, Burridge has had no problem in integrating with and leading her staff. 

The Apprentice Of The Year 

In the latter half of 2023, On The Tools awarded the prestigious UK’s Best Apprentice award to Todd Scanlon. Thirty-year-old Scanlon has Down’s Syndrome, but this has proven to be no obstacle for him on his journey to forge a career. Scanlon has always wanted to work in scaffolding, and after talking to a local company and showing his determination, Scanlon has not only become a permanent worker on their team but has been voted the UK’s best apprentice. 

Scanlon is a valued member of the team, according to his boss. He’s hard-working, enthusiastic, polite, and the customers love him. Taking Scanlon on as a member of the team wasn’t any cause for concern for Coles Scaffolding, and the apprentice has more than proven his skill and willingness to learn over and over again. What more could an employer ask for from his workforce? 

“I think it’s mainly because it is thought people with a disability shouldn’t be in our industry,” Martyn Coles, Scanlon’s employer, said of the win. “He’s just shown that you can do it with the right guidance. He is just a likeable guy.” 

An Industry Improvement 

Now that itvis 2024, more and more diversity is expected in trade roles. And this, says Richard Walker from rubbish removal experts Skip Hire, is exactly what these industries need: 

"For too many years the industry has suffered with a negative perception and reputation creating a stigma that has acted as a barrier to entry to a more diverse talent pool of workers. As innovation and technology play its part in modernising ways of working in the sector, together with schemes such as apprenticeships, we are not only seeing a more diverse workplace, but a more talented, skilled, and varied workforce.” 

The stories above on workplace diversity are just a brief snapshot, of course. No doubt we’ll see even more throughout 2024 and beyond!

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