Leah Green

More work needed to attract women to construction jobs

The Australian construction industry is still waiting to join other industries celebrating increasing gender equality this week.

Building and construction industry body, Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ), has used International Women’s Day to highlight the long road still ahead to increasing women in the industry.

CSQ is a strong supporter of International Women’s Day and has a week of activities planned to mark the event.

Three female Try’a Trade workshops are taking place across Brisbane, providing Year 10 students with an opportunity to try out four different trade skills and consider a possible career in construction.

Chief Executive Officer Brett Schimming said the construction industry was one of the slowest industries to record increases in female participation in the last 30 years.

“While the representation of women in the Australian workplace has improved dramatically since the 1970’s, this has unfortunately not been mirrored in the construction industry,” Mr Schimming said.

“Women currently account for less than 3% of all construction tradespeople in Australia – this compares to 51% of the non-construction workforce,” he said.

“Women are in even smaller numbers in the top three trades of electricians, carpenters and plumbers, with less than 4000 women across Australia working in these trades; only 1% of this group.

It’s not all bad news, however, as the rate of women participating in construction apprenticeships has doubled over the last decade.

“The numbers are still very low – around 700 women are working towards a construction apprenticeship in Queensland – but the trajectory is strongly upward,” Mr Schimming said.

Mr Schimming said the future productivity of the construction industry would rely on having more women participating.

“It is going to be increasingly important to encourage women into construction in the coming years as Australia’s population ages and growth in industry demand starts to outpace growth in the workface,” he said.

“Women are still reluctant to enter and stay in the construction industry despite new equipment removing the physical burdens that were once considered a major obstacle for women.

“CSQ has formally committed through our programs to supporting more women into construction and making this industry more attractive to females.

“In 2018, CSQ announced that our Board had achieved gender parity for the first time, with the appointment of our newest Director.

“Ensuring we have gender equality on our board means we are not just talking the talk, we are walking the walk,” he said.