Home » Growth of women in UK construction ‘among slowest’ of all skilled trades

Growth of women in UK construction ‘among slowest’ of all skilled trades

by Maryam Bint-Kazam
women in construction, woman wearing hard hat

The growth of women in the construction and building trades is among the slowest of all of the skilled occupations in the UK, new analysis of workforce data has revealed. 

Having taken a dive into 15 years worth of data, electrical training provider Electrician Courses 4U found the proportion of women working in UK construction and building trades has increased by just 0.42% since 2006. 

The research aims to shine a light on the evolution of the trades over the past three decades.

It was also discovered that in 2006 there were 8,500 women working in the construction and building trades, which equated to 0.97% of the total workforce.  

By 2021, the number of women working in the construction and buildings trades had increased by 1,200 to 9,700 – but that means women still only make up just 1.39% of the total workforce. 

Looking at the overall picture of 29 skilled occupations in the UK, the construction and buildings trades rank in a dismal 25th place when it comes to the trades which have seen the biggest increase in the proportion of women in their workforce over the last 15 years. 

The occupation which has struggled the most when it comes to attracting and maintaining women in their workforce is chefs. 

The number of women working as chefs has actually decreased since 2006 – falling from 56,900 to 55,000. 

Another occupation which has seen a decline of females in their workforce is tailors and dressmakers who have seen a proportional loss of 4.20% women workers over the past 15 years.

That said, women still make up over half of the workforce at 66.37%.  

Although some trades are struggling to attract women, the research has also revealed the occupations which have been most successful in boosting the proportion of females in their workforce. 

The skilled occupation which has seen the biggest increase in women workers is bakers and flour confectioners.

The proportion of female workers has almost doubled since 2006 – rising from 28.83% to 56.29%. 

Another occupation which has seen a substantial increase in women workers is cooks.

Females now make up 66.62% of the workforce as opposed to just 39.71% back in 2006. 



Commenting on the research, Nigel Best, director of Electrician Courses 4U, said: “By taking an in-depth look at the evolution of the skilled trades over the past 15 years we’ve been able to unearth some fascinating findings. 

“Not only are the skilled trades finding it difficult to attract women into the industry, they’re finding it increasingly challenging to recruit new talent in general. 

“It’s therefore imperative that these industries prioritise replacing and revamping an increasingly ageing workforce.”

The 10 skilled jobs which have seen the slowest growth in women workers over the past 15 years:

Occupation Number of female workers in 2006 Proportion of all workers who are female in 2006 Number of female workers in 2021 Proportion of all workers who are female in 2021 Proportional difference of females from 2006-2021 
Chefs 56,90042.15%55,00028.18%-13.97%
Tailors & dressmakers 10,30073.57%7,70066.37%-4.20%
Florists 13,30094.33%10,70093.86%-0.47%
Construction and building trades n.e.c. 5,3002.24%4,6002.24%0.00%
Construction & building trades 8,5000.97%9,7001.39%+0.42%
Furniture makers & other craft woodworkers 3,7007.46%4,100 8.15%+0.69%
Telecommunication engineers 2,5004.67%3,9005.96%+1.29%
Electrical and electronic trades 7,8001.80%12,7003.18%+1.38%
Building finishing trades 4,3001.79%5,5003.41%+1.62%
Vehicle trades 2,3000.78%7,5002.45%+1.67%

Image: Zoteva/Shutterstock


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