Civil Contractors New Zealand Blog

Women are the future of construction

Previously, women have been branded an untapped resource in filling the national trades shortage. There has been a shift in recent years, with the number of women in the construction industry growing exponentially and women can be found hard at work in just about every construction job.

With 10 percent yearly growth rates in the construction industry predicted through to 2019, and 50,000 more construction workers required within the next five years, our traditional workforce pools are not large enough to meet the demand so we must diversify our approach to inspiring young girls and women to consider a career in construction.

A new plan is underway to reach out to girls as young as three years old. This will involve preschool and primary school visits by positive female role models to spark an interest in the construction industry. Research has shown that currently, girls as young as six are turning away from a career in construction and STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as they believe these occupations are “for boys”.

The National Association for Women In Construction (NAWIC), are breaking down these stereotypes to show young girls that the construction industry is a place where females have successful careers and a sense of belonging. It’s not just parents and teachers who have an important role to play – it is much broader than that. The media, marketing and PR firms need to also consider the messages they are giving out in terms of the way the construction industry is represented.

A pilot programme created by Destination Trades, took 20 women of all ages, through a 32-week carpentry training course before setting them up with apprenticeships. The programme was extremely successful and once employers got used to the idea of women coming in, found that they were twice as safe and twice as productive.

Women were found to be easier on equipment and employers found if female employees are driving heavy equipment and trucks their fuel consumption goes down. The women were also found to be much safer in general because they follow procedures.

We all have a part to play when it comes to inspiring young girls and women to consider a career in construction. By working together, we can achieve a real change in our society where all career options are considered viable for both boys and girls.