Increasing Women’s Participation in VET and VET Careers

Policies, Publications & Submissions - December 18, 2023

VET pathways can be a powerful tool in enhancing female participation in the economy – both by providing greater participation in traditionally male-dominated industries and in providing career progression in other industries where qualifications are less common. However, female VET participation lags far below what is desirable and many VET careers remain solidly male-dominated despite concerted efforts to reverse this trend.

Female VET students face many unique barriers to participation in the VET system and in the careers and occupations that the system serves. There is a lot that can be done to increase their access to the VET system as well as their chances of successfully completing a qualification – reforms and initiatives targeted at directly addressing the barriers women face.

But women are not only women – they are also VET students and citizens and while they face many unique barriers to VET participation, they also experience many of the same barriers that all VET students face, or are confronted by the same factors that discourage VET participation for all students considering their training options. Part of making VET training more attractive to women is to make them more attractive for all students – regardless of gender.   

VET solutions cannot be the whole solution, however. We must face the reality that we still live in a society where women’s choices, interests and future are constrained by social and economic forces. The VET system can be made as welcoming to women as possible, but this will be largely unsuccessful as long as the forces which reduce and curtail women’s full participation in our economy and society are unaddressed. There are actions that we must take to begin to address these barriers which must be considered to be part of the suite of actions we can take to truly deliver a more gender balanced VET workforce.

Additionally, the ACTU would like to express its disappointment at both the timing and the duration of this consultation process. A fortnight-long consultation held in the doldrums of the year is not commensurate with the importance of this issue and reflects an ongoing trend of issues which impact women being relegated to the sidelines of policy agendas. We hope that the message being sent about the relative importance of this issue by this consultation approach is not a true representation of the Department’s commitment to this matter and that future efforts will indicate a substantially higher commitment to addressing this issue.

The ACTU Network

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