Minister wants more women in construction and trades NZ

Minister for Women Louise Upston has launched a report focussed on increasing the avenues and training opportunities for women to enter the construction and trades arena in Canterbury and other regionas.

Truck drivers are also on the Canterbury skills shortage list.

The report is called “Getting it done: Utilising women’s skills in the workforce.”

It outlines a five-step action plan to help employers get started on employing more women into the workplace.

It focuses on work with Canterbury stakeholders to increase women’s participation in trades training and jobs, and how these lessons apply to opportunities in the labour market elsewhere.

Upston says that other male-dominated industries such as livestock farming, meat processing and forestry are experiencing growth in many regions, including Canterbury, and women could fill more of these roles.

“Today, women are significantly under-represented across construction and trades, making up just 14% of New Zealand’s construction industry workforce, compared to 47% of the workforce as a whole,” says Upston.

“We’re doing slightly better than Australia and the US, where women make up around 12 and 9% respectively of their construction workforces,” she says.But despite the high and increasing demand for labour in the Canterbury rebuild, women’s employment in the construction industry remained flat says the ministry.

The team at the Ministry for Women saw this flat line and in 2013 commissioned research to try to why women weren’t applying for construction jobs.

The research found that women were available and wanted to work, and were open to working in construction, but the general perception was that these jobs were for the boys.

Some women also believed they might not meet the physical demands of the job.

The Ministry met stakeholders to outline the benefits for employers, other employees and women when an effort is made to employ more female staff.Research showed many companies experienced a distinct advantage from having a tradeswomen, both from the specific skills the women brought to their roles as well as their approach to customer service.Benefits of employing more women include improvements to health and safety, stronger customer service skills, and greater attention to detail.

An action plan to encourage more women into the trades in Canterbury was developed.It included initiatives to communicate opportunities, collaborate with influential people and organisations, increase the visibility of women already working in construction and encourage more women into trades training.

Upston says the number of women employed in Canterbury’s construction industry has more than doubled – from 3600 to 8600.There are now also more women employed in Canterbury than in March 2014, an increase of 5.4%.

The NZ Institute of Economic Research quarterly survey of business opinion March 2015 showed that 58% of Canterbury businesses found it difficult to get skilled labour.The introduction of fees-free courses has had a major impact on the number of women taking trades courses says the Minister.

CPIT numbers show 261 women enrolled in trade courses in 2015, up from 50 in 2011.They are participating in 24 programmes, including carpentry, painting and decorating, engineering and welding.

In December, women took out 17 of CPIT’s 50 trade awards.

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