In Europe, more than a third of working women (including women seeking employment) are predominantly from 6 categories of industries within a list of 130: sales, care work, clerical work and other office jobs, catering and cleaning jobs (source Eurostat). These types of employment are generally paid less, are often part time, and for certain jobs have antisocial hours.
Therefore the job market is divided into jobs which are traditionally held by men, better paid, and more buoyant, as opposed to roles traditionally held by women that are less so. A study by the European Commission describes this situation of “employment segregation” and of “gender segregation in the labour market” (Study of Francesca Bettio and Alina Verashchagina).
Women struggling to reintegrate into the job market are the most affected by this phenomenon. These women choose or are guided towards jobs that they believe or are led to believe are appropriate to their skill set, more often than not in the care or cleaning industry.
A structured support network while seeking employment has a crucial role to play in retraining unskilled women in industries listed above. More specifically, this support is essential to broaden women’s professional horizons regarding jobs in industries traditionally male orientated, often higher paid and less precarious.
Vocational retraining to trades traditionally held by men represents a permanent source of employment for women who have few employment opportunities and are often in precarious situations. But employment support structures, employment centres, equal access to employment organisations, associations for women in the workplace, job centres, local employment initiatives, etc. may feel helpless in assisting female job seekers in their retraining to jobs traditionally held by men.
They may lack:
• knowledge about the successful processes for this type of professional reconversion;
• arguments to convince women who have less employment opportunities of the benefits of this type of vocational retraining;
• training about diversity in the workplace.
The recently concluded Erasmus+ project “Gender Diversity means more employment”, in which CIAPE – The Italian Centre for Permanent Learning was involved as a partner, offers tools to raise awareness and training necessary for the employment support structures to help find employment.
As a first step towards a better employment for women who have fewer opportunities, operators can benefit from a 10 Step Guide to raise the awareness of employment centers about possible successful female retraining into a traditionally male role.
Moreover, the project partners have produced a Guide for the successful organisations of visits to companies that open to the diversity of trades, and allow to see jobs that are traditionally practiced by men in situations where they are held by women.
These company visits tackle issues that concern women who have the least employment opportunities and offer them the occasion to:
● broaden their fields of possible trades and roles;
● actually see women in jobs that are traditionally considered as “male occupations”;
● explore their interest and aptitude for a new job;
● be in touch with companies open to the diversity.
This Guide offers all the keys to organise site visits to companies, to experience professional roles traditionally held by men for female job seekers.
Finally, the project offers a Training booklet addressed to professionals who support job seekers, containing key teaching tools to help reorient and support women who have the least employment opportunities in successfully retraining to jobs traditionally held by men.
All the tools are freely downloadable in French, English, Italian and Bulgarian languages.
Contacts: Eleonora Perotti, President of CIAPE – Centro Italiano per l’Apprendimento Permanente, ciape(@)ciape.it, www.ciape.it
Project website: www.mixite.eu