The National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) says the latest Federal Budget will help address the gender gap in construction, with a roadshow at Queensland schools to encourage girls to consider a career in the construction industry.
The 2021-22 Federal Budget offers $42.2 million towards STEM scholarships for women and 5,000 extra training places for women to take up non-traditional trades.
NAWIC’s Fiona Lamari says it is a step in the right direction, as she gears up to present her unique virtual reality program to Queensland school students.
The virtual reality program is part of a wide range of tailored activities that NAWIC QLD run within the Queensland construction industry to attract, support and retain females, including mentoring programs, educational events and diversity training.
A virtual reality headset will allow students to ‘experience’ a virtual walk-through and ‘meet’ with various trades and professions working on a construction site.
The virtual site tour will be followed by a panel discussion, allowing students to ask questions about jobs, trades and pathways to construction.
Dr Lamari, who is a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Senior Lecturer in Construction Management, says young women need to be made more aware of the incredible opportunities available to them in the construction industry.
“I developed the virtual site tour because we needed an engaging way to show young women all the different jobs on offer. There’s a misconception that construction is all about bricks and mortar, but it’s so much more than that,” Dr Lamari said.
“I was shocked to read that the latest Construction Skills Queensland report shows just 821 women were enrolled in construction-based apprenticeship courses in 2020 compared to almost 20,000 men.”
“While female construction-based apprenticeships have increased from 431 enrolments in 2010, women still only represent 15 per cent of Queensland’s construction workforce, with less than 5 per cent ‘on the tools’,” she said.
“NAWIC’s mission is to lift the female participation rate to 30 per cent – it’s ambitious, but achievable, with additional funding in the budget and the VR headset school tour both helping us towards this target.”