Government launches partnership to boost women in construction

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Looking to close the gender gap in construction, the Turnbull Government  has launched the Master Builders’ Advancing Women in Building and Construction Program.

It was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Women Michaelia Cash this week as an initiative to help women wanting to forge careers in the building industry.

“The Commonwealth Government will provide $250,000 in funding over 12 months for this pilot program under its Women’s Leadership and Development strategy to help increase the participation and employment of women in the building industry,” Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

Construction is Australia’s largest sector in terms of the number of businesses involved.

ABS data shows that construction services comprise 77 percent of these small businesses, and small construction firms employ more than 500,000 Australians.

Despite this women are substantially underrepresented in the male dominated industry with only 11% of the industry’s workforce comprising of women.

A third of all employees in this sector are tradespeople, despite continuing skills shortages across many trades, yet women only account for 1%.

Advancing Women in Building and Construction will provide a dramatic boost to Master Builders’ commitment to providing real opportunities for women to have rewarding lifelong careers in the building industry by attracting, mentoring and retaining women in the industry,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“Master Builders recognises that there is substantial opportunity for continued improvement but also significant cultural barriers to overcome including the inbuilt biases of middle managers and some parents and teachers identified by Master Builders. Advancing Women in Building and Construction is about breaking down those barriers to women commencing, maintaining and reaching their full potential in the industry,” Harnisch said.

Small business owners looking to employ skilled workers will benefit as the program will work to attract and retain increased numbers of workers largely untapped by the industry.

“We know that while they are currently low in number, women trained in building trades are highly motivated to attain high standards in the skills that employers need.” explained Harnisch.

“Building techniques are rapidly changing as new technology increasingly takes hold in the industry and increasing the numbers of women in building will play a key role in the industry meeting the rising demand for a skilled workforce,” he said.

It is expected that there will be an additional 300,000 new jobs in the building industry over the next decade reinforcing the opportunities for women to find employment in the expanding sector.

Chloe Potvin
Chloe Potvin is a contributing small business writer for Kochie's Business Builders.