Why equality and diversity are important in trade roles

Society’s views have changed dramatically in the last 35 years – and particularly in the last decade.

According to a poll by Sky News in 2019, in 1984 42% of people felt that the role of ‘breadwinner’ should be filled by men, with women taking the role of ‘homemaker’. Thirty-five years later, this opinion had radically shifted – only 8% of people polled believed that these should be the set roles for men and women. 

Of course, gender is only one part of the topic of equality and diversity. When it comes to ‘breadwinners, the idea of equality and diversity supports a huge number of people. From age to disability, race to religion, these personal factors should not get in the way of pursuing a career.

In terms of trade roles, we’re seeing a fantastic response from employers to ensure equality and diversity is honoured in the workplace. Let’s take a look at some of the best examples across a number of industries. 

Managing 25 quarries by 22 

Early in 2019, the BBC reported on the success of Emily Burridge. 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. 

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. 

Apprentice of the Year 2019

Later on in 2019, Todd Scanlon won the prestigious “UK’s Best Apprentice” award from On The Tools. 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 2019. 

His boss commented that Scanlon is a valued member of the team — 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’s just a likeable guy.” 

A move within industries

In 2020, we’re sure to witness further examples of diversity within trade roles. And this, says Richard Walker from waste 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’re not only seeing a more diverse workplace, but a more talented, skilled, and varied workforce.”

The above are just a small number of examples that prove the importance of supporting equality and diversity in trade roles. No doubt we’ll see even more throughout 2020.

Photo by Annie Spratt