You can’t teach attitude

“The trades are fast, exciting and challenging. If you have the people skills you can pick up the tools stuff.” – Grace, Project Manager.

When you’re hiring new staff, how important is it that they have a good attitude, a willingness to learn, and they turn up on time?

According to the employers we spoke to, they're some of the most important attributes in a new team member.

Lots of women have exactly these qualities – and they might not be the type of women you think.

Over half of the women we surveyed who are keen to enter the trades are:

  • Over 35,
  • have higher education qualifications,
  • have no dependents,
  • and have lots of transferable skills.

"The skills of thinking ahead and planning in my last job have been so useful. The skill of being able to anticipate what will happen and solve problems – I use that all the time. Having an academic background has helped me retain information quickly."

— Jordy
, former Anaesthetic Technician, now apprentice builder.

"As a mum who became a leading hand, the skills of being a parent are so helpful. I’m comfortable telling people what to do. I understand other’s experiences and I know how to be encouraging."

— Vee
, Mum and Leading Hand.

"Hospo gives you amazing people skills, the ability to work quickly and communicate in a fast-paced environment, and you have to be really organised. These skills are so important in project management. The trades are fast, exciting and challenging. If you have the people skills you can pick up the tools stuff."

— Grace
, former hospitality worker, now Project Manager.

What about employers who’ve already got women on site? What do they reckon?

We spoke to 28 employers up and down the country, from Whangārei to Dunedin. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“To be honest, young males have got a lot of maturing to do when they leave school, and we find that in their early twenties, we’re their parent, we’re their boss, we’re their everything, and to try and coach them along, you put up with a lot of crap as an employer. The females we have found have actually brought less of that. They haven’t been born into the trade, but they’ve got a passion, an interest and they’re motivated so actually, often they turn out to be really good.”

“Both the women we’ve employed are ahead with attitude, they’re ahead with detailing, they’re ahead with preparation. Before they leave at night they actually spend 5 minutes preparing for the next day, so they just come in and get into it.”

“Our road-marking foreman, he’s got a young girl with him at the moment and she’s just flourishing because she’s willing to get involved, she wants to learn, she brings an attitude that’s just, “I’m going to do it!”, and the other guys are picking up on that as well.”