Women make up just 2.6% of workers “on the tools” in New Zealand’s construction sector, and the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) says correcting this imbalance is vital to addressing ongoing skills shortages.
Employment forecasts for the construction sector, which the BCITO covers, suggest there will be more than 80,000 new and replacement job openings in the next five years.
Sector crying out for skilled workers
Traditional workforce pools are not meeting industry demands for skilled workers, and record low birth-rates in 2003 are making competition for school leavers particularly fierce.
“The sector is crying out for skilled workers, and boosting gender diversity is vital,” BCITO chief executive Warwick Quinn says.
“Currently, less than 5% of BCITO employers take on women apprentices. We need more employers to broaden their scope and wake up to the benefits of a more diverse workforce,” Mr Quinn says.
“We also need more women to consider a career in the trades. We are concerned that not enough schools are encouraging young women to get involved.
“Although 96% of our women apprentices have strong job satisfaction, nearly three-quarters of them never had the chance to participate in construction-related courses while at school.”
To help address this gender imbalance, the BCITO has released a short documentary which explores and challenges stereotypes.
The “My Boss Legend” documentary reveals what it’s really like for employers, women apprentices, and those who have supported their decision to enter this male-dominated industry.
The campaign aims to encourage more employers to open the door to hiring women on their teams.
MB Brown Builders in Wairarapa employs Paris Ternent-James, 22, as a carpentry apprentice.
Owner Stephen Brown runs his business by the core values of family, respect, equal opportunities and providing a positive and engaging learning environment.
Stephen and his wife Judy took part in the documentary.
Best person for the job
“I think you’ve always got to look at your company and employ the best person for the job at the time,” Ms Brown says.
Great Lakes Aluminium in Taupo employs apprentice Tamara Tuhiwai, who began her trade career in her early 40s (see picture, page 43). Her boss, Bronek Szpetnar, runs his business on the values of equality and whanau.
He is simply interested in employing the person best suited for the job, and half of his staff are women.
“Tamara’s happy, you know she’s loving what she’s doing. She goes to work extra early, so she can open up and get everything prepped for the day, and she gets it done,” says Tamara’s husband William Rhind, who also took part in the documentary.
Watch their story now at mybosslegend.nz.