Press Release: Women to build construction numbers

A drastic shortage of apprentices and growing housing demand has placed the spotlight on the potential for increased gender diversity in this male-dominated industry.

To raise awareness of this issue a build like no other is currently taking place at Sylvia Park Shopping Centre in Auckland.

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) has assembled a team of eight apprentices who are building Not Your Average Shed, an update of the classic kiwi shed with all new bells and whistles.

The event showcases the innovation that is taking place in this industry, while highlighting the need to address the shortage of apprentices.

In 2016/17 the demand for new houses is forecasted at more than 28,000, but the current labour market is only able to support the building of 15,000 houses per year, says BCITO chief executive Ruma Karaitiana.

“The industry needs to train more people and they need to do it now. Our traditional workforce pools are shrinking and if you’re running out of people you’ve got to be diverse and look for them somewhere else. We’re working in partnership with employers to figure out how we can do better with female participation in industry.”

National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) past-president and member Cathy Tracey agrees.

“We absolutely need more diversity in the construction industry.

“Going forward employers interested in attracting the best people need to ensure that any unconscious bias is addressed. If you let stereotypes influence your hiring practices and you are reluctant to hire women for example, then instantly the talent pool is reduced by 50%.

“Research shows that diverse companies outpace homogeneous companies in terms of performance and productivity. When you’re on-site it’s about attitude not gender.

“The female apprentices taking part in Not Your Average Shed are a perfect example of what women in this industry can achieve.”

Carla Tonga is one of two female apprentices taking part in the Not Your Average Shed build.

In 2015 women made up 17.5% of the core construction sector and Tonga says it will be fantastic to see more women in the trades. “We need to focus on getting good tradies, regardless of gender, it’s about attitude, willingness to learn, and understanding that it’s a team environment, not a battle of the sexes.”

“For me, becoming a building apprentice will get me to where I want to be in the future, while at the same time being able to provide for my daughter.”

However, Tonga says she has experienced first-hand the challenges of being a women in the trades.

“There is a level of resistance, but personally it’s irrelevant to me as I don’t let it have an impact. I do worry though, as a mother, that my daughter could face a similar situation.”

Tonga says for any young women thinking of pursuing a career in the trades it’s important to persevere.

“There will be people that will challenge you, but stay positive and committed.”

BCITO provide a range of apprenticeships across fifteen trades within the building and construction industry. Any budding apprentices can head down to Sylvia Park to watch the action live, or find out more at BCITO.TV


Carla and Cody

Carla Tonga and Cody Webby on-site at the Not Your Average Shed build.

Event information

The event kicked off on 29 March at Sylvia Park, Auckland.
The build will run for three weeks before the shed goes under the hammer on 21 April.
Follow the action at BCITO.TV

For more information contact

Caroline Brown
Acumen Republic for BCITO
04 494 5152
027 630 4851
[email protected]

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