STEREOTYPES need to be smashed about young women in apprenticeships, according to a training organisation based in Bathurst.
VERTO chief executive officer Ron Maxwell says a study released this week sheds a damning light on why women continue to reject apprenticeships as a viable career option.
And he says conversations need to change at home and at school as a result.
More than 1000 young women aged 15 to 24 in metropolitan and regional NSW were surveyed for the study, which was released by VERTO and post-school options organisation Year 13.
Among those surveyed, the most common reason cited for not considering an apprenticeship was to attend university (65 per cent) and more than one-third said their schools did not promote trade careers for females.
The survey found 75pc of respondents aren't interested in completing an apprenticeship; only six per cent said they had done, were doing or had started but left an apprenticeship; 18pc said they were likely to do an apprenticeship in the future; and more than three-quarters indicated their schools did not position apprenticeships and trades positively for females.
"Perceptions of lower earning power, lack of encouragement and limited promotion of apprenticeships within schools and by parents were all highlighted as significant barriers for females taking on apprenticeships," Mr Maxwell said.
"In my opinion, the career guidance programs in our schools need to rethink the way trades are discussed, particularly with female students.
"There is a definite gender bias when it comes to talking about career options, and this research demonstrates that many female students aren't informed properly about apprenticeship pathways, and often have limited access to trade-based subjects.
"This is also reflected in the discussions taking place at home, with many families not viewing trade careers as a viable option for young women."
Mr Maxwell said this was "incredibly disappointing" because Australia is suffering from a significant skills shortage.
"Given that NSW is soon going to need a lot more highly skilled tradespeople as we recover from disasters such as bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to break down these barriers and smash these stereotypes because some of the most talented and hardworking tradespeople we employ at VERTO are female," he said.
Year13 co-founder, Saxon Phipps, said the government's prioritising of the VET sector will help more young women see it as a viable career option.
"Systematic changes in our education system are on the horizon and this is evident in the latest findings from the review into senior secondary pathways where schools will now be putting a lot higher focus on VET which has highlighted the importance of VET in society," Mr Phipps said.
"This will empower and enable more young women to see these opportunities across these industries as places they can have fulfilling careers.
"With the technological evolutions we're seeing in these traditional trades, it's now becoming less about the distinction between traditional white and blue-collar worker and creating a 'new-collar' worker which can be more appealing to women."