As a global movement that promotes access to vocational skills, WorldSkills believes that skills have no gender and that it is time that inequality in the workplace is eradicated.
“We aim to speak up for women, for young women and for girls,” said the President of WorldSkills, Simon Bartley. “So, that they can feel empowered to take any career choice that they wish irrespective of the fact that that might be in an area that historically they may not have considered.”
In October at the General Assembly in Niagara Falls, WorldSkills formally endorsed the UN campaign, HeForShe. This initiative calls on people around the world to stand together to create a “bold, visible force for gender equality.”
In recognition of International Women's Day, 8 March 2017, David Hoey, CEO WorldSkills International spoke to the importance of encouraging more women to consider a skills career.
"There are not enough women in skills, trades, and technologies, I can assure you that is one of the best career opportunities," said David Hoey. "Consider a skilled career and you will be amazed at the opportunities available."
Listening to Sobheya Musallam’s views on women in the workplace in her home country of Palestine you hear an uplifting story of equality being embraced and advanced.
The 22-year-old graphic designer, who competed in the first-ever national skills competition to be held in Palestine, last October, says that while working women across the nation once faced major obstacles to employment, it is an issue that is now being consigned to history.
An interest that began with helping out on the family farm, has allowed Louise Azzopardi to fix her sights on a future career – with the emphasis on ‘fix’.
As a child, the Heavy Vehicle Maintenance Technician from Australia, carried out repairs, and maintenance alongside her father, instilling a passion for machines that is now seeing her progress in a profession that is usually regarded as a male preserve.
Louise, who will be competing in Heavy Vehicle Maintenance at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, believes “the glass ceiling is 95% broken” in her field, but there is a lingering feeling that “boys are dirty, girls are clean” and she faced discrimination at the start of her career.
Many people’s jobs revolve around rotas – for Caroline Söderqvist, it’s more about rotors.
The 23-year-old helicopter technician from Mjölby, Sweden, will compete in Aircraft Maintenance at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, having entered the same category in her home nation’s 2016 competition. She hopes her career choice can help to address the under-representation of women in aviation.
“I’ve tried to figure out why we don’t see more women applying, and my conclusion is that they don’t know it exists or they’re too intimidated to even try to pursue it,” she said. “Promoting women already in the business is the best way to make people realize that, while it might seem a typical ‘guy job’, it doesn’t have to be.”