It’s fair to say that society has changed a lot in the last 35 years. In particular, there have been huge shifts in attitude when it comes to equality and diversity. Sky News reported on a study from 1984, which showed that 42 per cent of people back then felt men ought to take the role of breadwinner for a family, and women ought to be homemakers. 35 years later, only eight per cent of people still maintained these beliefs.

Gender roles are, of course, just a small part of the whole topic of diversity and equality. It is an issue that is particularly prevalent in trade roles. But with success stories like the ones we’re outlining below, it’s clear to see the benefits of trade roles becoming more diverse.

2019’s Apprentice of the Year from On The Tools

Todd Scanlon was named On The Tools’ Apprentice of the Year in the latter half of 2019. 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 says that Scanlon is a valuable member of the team. He’s 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?

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“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.”

Taking on quarries at 22

Emily Burridge also enjoyed trade role success in 2019, as reported by the BBC. 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.

This success story is particularly inspiring as, at just 22 years old, Burridge is already 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.

Bringing industrial improvements

It is expected that trade roles will continue to push for diversity and equality in the years ahead. And this, says Richard Walker from skip hire Birmingham suppliers SkipHire UK, 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.”

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There are so many more success stories out there in the trade sector. No doubt we’ll see even more throughout 2020!