A 20-unit apartment construction project in Cannon Hill is aiming to close the gender gap by increasing the number of its women tradies by 20 percent. Priority is given to hiring women roofers who will join the current 16 female workers on the site.
The Exemplar apartments, funded by the Department of Housing and Public Works and awarded to a tender in July, needs at least 64 women tradies until the project’s target completion in June 2021.
A registration with QBuild is necessary to qualify for work at a construction site backed by the government.
Casey Bell said that the vibe at the Cannon Hill site is “very different and exciting” and she is learning more about the electrical trade amidst the challenges of her job. She believes she made the best decision to chart a career path in a male-dominated industry and hopes that more women will consider construction.
According to the National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) Queensland president Jennifer Gillett, this pandemic has highlighted the value of an untapped resource among female tradies. There is a solid career waiting for many women who are needed in various roles in construction.
NAWIC said that women make up only two percent of the construction workforce in Queensland and the hope is to improve this number to 11 percent.
But the opportunity for women to join construction was hatched before the pandemic. In October 2019, the government announced a plan to provide thousands of jobs for women in at least 20 social housing construction projects across the state.
The Cannon Hill site is the pilot project.
“We know that a diverse workforce allows the best talent to rise to the top, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, cultural background or beliefs,” Minister for Women and Member for Bulimba Di Farmer said. “Around 15 percent of apprentices in QBuild are female and one in four of the 16,000 young people who applied for a place in the Manufacturing Industry Group Apprenticeship Scheme last financial year were female.
“To retain this emerging talent in the workforce, we’ve got to make working environments more accessible, to do better than 2.4 percent female participation in our state’s construction industry.”