The National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) Queensland is calling for a ‘pink collar’ boost to the economy, as new research shows construction has the lowest female participation rate of any industry.
Statistics from the Australian Labour Market Information Portal outline that just 12.4 per cent of all construction jobs are held by women. However, NAWIC Queensland says the number of women on tools is much lower – at around 2 per cent.
Queensland is leading the charge in closing the gender gap, with an apartment project being built at Cannon Hill, backed by the Department of Housing and Public Works, aiming to achieve a 20 per cent female workforce.
NAWIC Queensland president Jennifer Gillett says encouraging more women to pick up the tools could provide a boost to the economy by maximising local workforces.
“Coronavirus has highlighted the importance of supporting regional economies by keeping workers employed locally, and it’s fairly clear that the construction industry has an untapped resource due to the shortage of female tradies,” she said.
“We want women to realise that construction offers a solid career path with varied roles – both on and off the tools – and that there is work available with support through industry bodies like NAWIC for those looking to re-train.”
“The Cannon Hill apartment project is just one example of how women can make the move into construction, with a growing number of employers in building and associated works embracing the opportunity to create a more diverse team.”
Casey Bell is among the 16-strong team of women who have helped to shape the Cannon Hill apartment project to date, with an additional 64 women expected to join the team leading up to the project’s completion.
Ms Bell is currently completing an electrical apprenticeship with QBuild and says while this is her first time being part of a project as big as Cannon Hill, the experience so far has been extraordinary.
“I’ve worked on a few smaller projects around Brisbane but the atmosphere on a project like Cannon Hill is very different and exciting to be a part of,” she said.
“So far I have been involved in running the underground conduit, which basically means we run thick pipe through the ground so the cables are protected from any damage the build might do.”
“It’s interesting jobs like this that caught my eye when choosing my trade. There are so many different components to the electrical trade which really appealed to me, plus you get to learn something new every single day and the work constantly challenges me.”
Ms Bell said the industry can be daunting for women because it’s so male-dominated but choosing this career has been the best decision and it would be great to see more women embrace construction.
“For girls considering this career, I always say just give it a go, even if you are a little nervous,” she said.
“Working in construction is an extremely challenging and rewarding career; it’s a really great industry to be a part of and you always get lots of support from everyone.”