Building up women in construction industry

March 29, 2022

Catholic Housing entities have released a strategy to support the success of women in the construction industry. You can find the strategy here.

The strategy, released by Centacare Evolve Housing (CEH) and St Joseph Affordable Homes (SJAH) on International Women’s Day, follows the announcement of a $197,000 grant from the Department of Communities late last year.

The grant funds a women-led coaching position in CEH’s Build Up Tassie program to empower and mentor women interested in joining the construction industry.

Build Up Tassie crew members have opportunities to work onsite with SJAH, and potentially gain employment through its apprenticeship program.

SJAH Executive Manager of Business Development Belinda Clarke said the strategic initiative will increase the number of women in Build Up Tassie, and subsequently in apprenticeships.

“There are a lot of barriers within the industry itself to having women operating on sites,” she explained.

“It is a culture that is traditionally male. There are very limited female role models in the trade, so it is not seen as a real opportunity for girls.”

Mrs Clarke said as part of the ‘Supporting Women to Succeed in Construction’ strategy, SJAH identified three key areas to bring about change.

“We are looking at enhancing culture, recruitment and retention and our organisation itself,” she said.

“We are proactively looking at our culture and our policies, our processes and facilities, to make sure they are welcoming for all people.”

Strategy objectives include increasing the recruitment and retention of females in Build Up Tassie and the SJAH apprenticeship program and supporting and coaching young female job seekers.

It will provide pathways to apprenticeships and increase the number of female employees in the construction trades in Tasmania who are life-ready, skill-ready and work-ready.

“SJAH is about employment outcomes, so that’s our mission and purpose – to deliver sustainable employment outcomes for young and vulnerable Tasmanians,” Mrs Clarke said.

“So, we want to make sure we have men and women in that cohort.”

The strategy was officially launched in Hobart on International Women’s Day, by the Hon Madeleine Ogilvie MP, Minister for Women.

“I would like to congratulate St Joseph Affordable Homes and Centacare Evolve Housing on their Supporting Women to Succeed in Construction Strategy.

“The work they are doing is having a huge impact, not just by supporting young women to take the first step in their career, but also by changing the culture of the building and construction industry.

“I am proud that the Tasmanian Government has been able to enable this work through a women-led coaching, empowering and mentoring grant program.”

Mrs Clarke said women currently only held about 2% of trade positions in Australia, and 13% in construction.

“At SJAH, 24% of staff are women and 10.5% of apprentices are women,” she noted.

“At Build Up Tassie, 50% of staff are women and with our new cohort coming through, we are at 23% girls in the training program.”

SJAH apprentice electrician Iris Rimmer said the experience had been challenging but rewarding.

“Even if your pathway has some hurdles, stick with it because it will always be worth it in the end,” she said.

Build Up Tassie coach Melanie Ransley, who was appointed through grant funding, said she had faced her fears to follow her dream.

“When I first joined the construction industry, I was terrified,” she admitted.

“But I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if I hadn’t joined.”