TradeCareers Insights Research

TradeCareers’ pioneering Insights Research, reveals the barriers New Zealand women face when entering the building, construction and infrastructure industries. This solutions-focused report was commissioned in April 2021 to better understand the employment situation of the 22,000 New Zealand women who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

Cogo were engaged by the TradeCareers project to deliver new research to support the strategy and implementation plan to increase the number of women entering the trades, specifically those who have lost their jobs or who are underemployed due to COVID-19. The results offer insights into how to attract and transition women into careers within the trade sector.

“We funded this work because it is important to know what barriers and opportunities are out there for women getting into trades, especially as they are an under-represented group. This survey shows there are still some perception and social barriers for women. If we can make it easier for 50% of the population to enter the trades, that could go a long way to easing skills shortages as well as improve long term career opportunities for women.”

Tim Fowler, Chief Executive, Tertiary Education Commission

In mid 2021, there were only 8235 women in apprenticeships and managed apprenticeships in the construction and infrastructure sector. This is an overall percentage of 15% of the total enrollments as at October 2021. This is up from 13.5% in 2020. Overall there are 13.5% of women in the trades including in administration roles.

There are simply not enough tradespeople to help New Zealand build back better. Government initiatives including free training for apprenticeships are on offer and while there is interest from record numbers of people, the percentage of women entering the trades workforce has not moved significantly enough to make an impact.

The question is ‘why?’

A screenshot of the report document cover

Key Insights


Of the 2200 surveyed 60% expressed interest in entering the trades. Survey results found that women want a supportive boss and work colleagues, and an understanding from their employer of flexible working hours to support caring responsibilities. The results highlighted a want for better understanding career pathways in the trades, and the importance of feeling safe, both physically and mentally, at work. Results also shone a light on the importance of a workplace that is respectful of different cultures.


The report also reveals that 79% of trade employers surveyed would like to hire female employees into their businesses but need support to do so. Support in the form of training and resources to create safe and respectful workplaces, bust some myths about what women are capable of and gain an understanding of the unique needs of the female workforce and how to reach them.

For those leading the charge, Employers stated reasons such as women’s dedication to their work, higher attention to detail and time management skills as attributes that make them an asset to their sites.

The TradeCareers initiative’s mission is to continually reduce the barriers women face to enter the trades, with special attention and support given for Māori and Pacific career seekers and support Employers to create a supportive, engaging and exciting workplaces to ensure both the future of women and the future of the trades are in good hands.