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Global commitment to HeForShe

15 March 2017

As a global movement that promotes access to vocational skills, WorldSkills believes that skills have no gender and that inequality in the workplace must be 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.”

At the General Assembly in Niagara Falls in October, 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.”

Laurence Gates, a member of the WorldSkills Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the Strategy Committee, said, “I am very happy that WS has joined the HeForShe Campaign because skills have no gender. It is high time we have more women in skills.”

The campaign invites everyone, especially men in leadership roles, to take a pledge to support actively gender equality. Jos de Goey, Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Chair of the Strategy Committee, has made the pledge and invites all supporters of WorldSkills to do the same. “Women in the vocational sector matter. You can be involved yourself and support the HeForShe Campaign… I already did and together we can make a change.”

HeForShe is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. WorldSkills and its Members recognize that the advancement of skills, trades, and technologies careers as first choice career options cannot be achieved, if only one gender is entering them. “HeForShe calls on male leaders to speak about gender issues in their organizations,” Tim Lawrence, Executive Director of SkillsUSA.

This call to action was embraced worldwide, with WorldSkills leaders speaking out about how outdated gender stereotypes are limiting women being hired in many professions. Brett Judd, CEO of WorldSkills Australia said, “many of our WorldSkills Champions are young women excelling in fields that don’t necessarily conform with gender stereotypes, and they need to be celebrated.  I am with WorldSkills Australia in supporting all forms of equality in the workplace, and I encourage you to do the same, not just on International Women’s Day but every day.”

Although the number of women in skilled careers is increasing, the perception still exists that a person’s gender should influence their ambitions. Gayle Tierney, Minister for Training and Skills, Victoria, Australia, proclaimed her support for women in trades. “We all know that women face barriers to entering training and work. That’s because there is a perception that trades are a man’s domain. Let me tell you that is a thing of the past. That’s why organizations like WorldSkills are so important to breaking down barriers.”

In the UK the Member organization, WorldSkills UK, is championing diversity in practical ways. This includes carrying out inclusion and diversity training across competitions to make sure that all young people, including women, are getting the best chance of success. WorldSkills UK is also working with partners to drive forward diversity initiatives, and to make sure that diversity across all sectors is being looked at. And, the organization is championing young role models by profiling more and more young women, to make sure that they are acting as role models to inspire other young women to do things differently.

“There are major challenges for young women coming into the workforce today,” said Dr Neil Bentley, the CEO of WorldSkills UK. “So, there is a big opportunity for employers to work with organizations like WorldSkills in really thinking about how they create roles for young women coming into new industries.”

In India, WorldSkills India is creating pathways to encourage women to enter careers in skills. “We aim to empower young women through vocational training. It will help them to make informed career choices, nurture their growth, and foster the nation’s economy. WorldSkills India and IndiaSkills encourages women from all genres to challenge the stereotypes, and it is committed to support #HeForShe campaign in designing new pathways for career development,” said Rajesh Agrawal, Official Delegate WorldSkills India.

From Thailand to Canada, the need for more women to enter skills careers is a pressing concern. “All ages, all genders are “human capital”, which play a vital role in the development of the country in all aspects. We, as the Department of Skill Development, Ministry of Labour, are determined to increase labour productivity to both men and women equally in all industries,” said Terapol Koonmuang, Director-General, Department of Skill Development.

In Canada, Shaun Thorson, Chief Executive Officer, Skills/Compétences Canada, noted the economic disadvantages women face by not entering skilled careers, "Skills Canada aims to inform young Canadians that careers in the skilled trades are a viable and lucrative option for both genders. We hope that in the future more women will pursue opportunities in these fields."

Young women and young men must have the same opportunities in, and access to, vocational education and apprenticeships, wherever they live. Take the HeForShe pledge, by signing at HeForShe.org, and acknowledge that you are “one of billions… who believe that everyone is born free and equal”, and that you “will take action against gender bias, discrimination and violence to bring the benefits of equality to us all.”