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Women in Construction: time to smash down the gender bias wall

Women in Construction: time to smash down the gender bias wall

The construction industry in Australia generates more than $360 billion a year in revenue and employs around 1.2 million people. But what percentage of that workforce is women? And how can you become a tradie lady and smash down the gender bias wall?

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT IS THE GENDER SPLIT IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the building and construction industry is the most male-dominated sector in Australia – particularly at managerial and executive level. Around 97% of CEOs and 88% of senior managers in the industry are men. But there are signs more women are interested in working in construction.

Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) data found female tradies completing apprenticeships more than doubled from 2010 to 2020, while the over number of women in construction increased from 44,583 in 2015 to 59,587 in 2020, for an increase of 34%. But overall, across the country, just 2.5% of tradies are women.

Female participation charts

Source: CSQ

WHICH POSITIONS ARE WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION MOST LIKELY TO WORK IN?

Although women make up around 13% of the construction workforce, of that close to 87% work in office positions, such as administration, sales, or management. CSQ said the most popular trades for women were painting, tiling, gardening and landscaping, plastering, and earthmoving plant operators.  

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BARRIERS WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION FACE?

A 2016 study by the University of NSW found issues such rigid work hours, parental leave policies, pay inequality, and exclusion, all contributed to barriers for women working in the construction industry. The study cited a lack of work life balance for women, who felt they were left to choose between working in construction of caring for their family. This extended to parental leave policies.

Parental leave is viewed as an actual and resource cost on construction project, with little recognition of the cost on women’s pay equity and career progression” – UNSW study

There is still around a 14% gender pay gap in Australia, and the construction industry is slightly above the national average at 16.6%.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

ARE THINGS IMPROVING?

Some companies are looking at ways to increase female representation on the tools, such as actively hiring more women, and giving them greater access to opportunities for career progression. There is data to suggest 13% of construction companies are now owned by women, which is an increase of 64% over five years.

Infrastructure company ACCIONA Australia and New Zealand recently ran a construction project with a 50:50 split of men and women to see the results, and the project finished ahead of schedule and under budget.

“We wanted to break the paradigm. It’s very unusual to finish ahead of time and ahead of budget. So that was an excellent outcome.” – ACCIONA Australia and New Zealand COO Andre Noonan.

Mr Noonan said it makes absolutely no sense for the entrenched gender bias to continue because it’s simply not sustainable as a business model.

Women in Construction: time to smash down the gender bias wall

Governments are also actively working to boost the number of tradie ladies. The Queensland government has set targets for its construction arm QBuild to boost the overall representation of women in construction. In New South Wales, the state government announced it will support 3,000 training placed for women in trades to boost representation. The Victorian government also plans on greater funding for apprenticeships and training for women.

“Each year, governments spend billions of dollars on procurement, and procurement guidelines are one of the most powerful tools that governments have got to accelerate gender-inclusive economic growth.”  – Victoria’s Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner Niki Vincent

HOW TO GET STARTED

You can also help boost female representation in the construction industry by studying an online building or construction course. With strong future growth predicted, and increased incentives for women to join the industry, the future looks bright for tradie ladies.

Get in touch today to learn more about your study options.

Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Construction Skills Queensland, ABC, Australian Industry and Skills Committee, UNSW, Big Rentz, Queensland government, NSW government, Victoria government

PLEASE FILL OUT THE FORM TO DOWNLOAD A FACT SHEET AND LEARN MORE ABOUT WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION IN AUSTRALIA

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10 highest paid construction jobs in Australia

10 Highest paid construction jobs in Australia

Being a construction worker in Australia can be a very lucrative career. The building and construction industry is one of the biggest in the country, and with the right experience and qualifications you can earn well upwards of $100,000 a year.

Here are the top 10 highest paid construction jobs you may find interesting.

10. EARTHWORKS CONTRACTOR

Civil earthworks contractors prepare the groundwork for infrastructure and construction projects by clearing and removing soil, rocks, structures, tree roots etc from a work site. You may also be tasked with supplying new soil and levelling it out for the next stage of construction. According to Canstar, a financial comparison site, civil earthworks contractors typically earn around $97,000 a year.

9. CARPENTER

Carpenters are responsible for a range of tasks such as constructing, erecting, and installing structures made of wood and similar materials. Carpenters can also repair damaged structures. Canstar found the average salary for a carpenter was $102,000 a year.

10 Highest paid construction jobs in Australia
8. CONCRETER

Working as a concreter can be very physically taxing, but it’s also one of the highest paid construction jobs in Australia. Concreters pour, spread, smooth, and screed slabs of concrete to make structures such as floors, stairs, paths, ramps, and bridges. If you work as a concreter, you could earn up to $107,000 a year according to Canstar.

7. PLUMBER

Plumbers install, maintain and repair drains, pipes, taps, and equipment used for water supply, drainage, and sewerage. Working as a plumber you may also fix heating, cooling and ventilation systems. According to Canstar, plumbers can earn around $110,000 a year.

6. SITE SUPERVISOR

Working as a Site Supervisor, you will oversee and run operations on a construction site to make sure the project runs safely, and on time. Site Supervisors ensure a high level of performance and compliance with safety regulations. You could earn around $110,000 a year working as a Site Supervisor.

Source: SEEK

5. CRANE OPERATOR

Crane Operators will operate cranes to lift, move, and position heavy objects. You will also perform inspections and maintenance on equipment and need to be compliant with safety regulations on work sites. Crane Operators can earn upwards of $120,000 a year.

Source: SEEK

4. BUILDER

Builders are one of the most in-demand jobs in Australia with people spending record amounts on home renovations. Builders will build and renovate residential, commercial, and industrial building and sometimes work on demolitions and excavations. If you are a licensed builder you will be able to work on larger projects, and most licensed builders will be self-employed and run their own business. Although salary will vary, builders typically earn upwards of $120,000 a year according to service.com.au. You will need to meet technical requirements to apply for your builders licence*, such as completing the Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) CPC40110.

3. FOREPERSON

Working as a foreperson can be a very lucrative role in the building and construction industry. A foreperson oversees and directs other construction workers on a work site. You will be a point of contact for managers and the executive team, and for people working under you. You could earn up to $150,000 a year working as a foreperson. The Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) CPC50210 is designed for construction workers who want to boost their career and chase a promotion as a foreperson.

Source: SEEK

2. CONSTRUCTION PROJECT MANAGER

A project manager in the construction industry is responsible for overseeing and organising every stage of a project. You may need to review architectural plans, co-ordinate, and lead teams, manage schedules, and organise materials and labour. Project managers are one of the highest paid construction jobs in Australia, and you could potentially earn close to $200,000 a year.

Source: SEEK

1. CONSTRUCTION MANAGER

One step up from a project manager, construction managers will oversee and advise all staff on the progress of a project. Construction managers are involved in all aspects of a work site’s operations and will need to liaise with property developers, building owners, clients, and subcontractors. Construction managers are the highest paid construction workers in the country and earn more than $200,000 a year.

Source: SEEK

If you want to boost your career and step into one of the highest paid construction jobs in Australia, take a FREE skills assessment now to find the right qualification for you or fill out the form below to speak with one of our Education Consultants.

*Information here is a guide only and regulations change for each state. Please check with your local authority for licensing applications or more information.

Sources: Canstar, SEEK