Women in the Construction Industry

07/09/2017

Changing the Face of the Construction Industry
The construction industry’s low participation rate of women needs to change and construction companies must ‘shout about the opportunities available to women’ as they are key influencers.

The construction industry is suffering recruitment problems with its traditional source of labour (male dominant industry), and bearing in mind that the construction industry is one of the country’s leading economic drivers a shortage of skills could create a significant risk to planned projects.  The UK needs to meet the challenge of the skills gap and reach out to women – this is a necessity. 

Girls don’t do that is no longer the case
The construction industry must attract and encourage women into the industry to see a long-term future and to meet planned projects, as a shortage of skills will most definitely hinder progress.  Currently only 10% of workers in the construction industry are female and only 2% of manual workers are women, according to the construction training and registration body CITB.

Girls need role models – the industry must promote female roles within the industry and highlight the positive career paths, so that more women can become part of a global industry. One of the main factors quoted for women not entering the profession is the lack of female role models and mentors. The construction industry is one of the UK’s leading employers, and whilst women are increasing their numbers in the workforce, they remain concentrated in certain occupational sectors.

More women than ever before are going to university and more are in vocational training, the UK’s construction industry is busier now than it has been for over a decade but is being held back by skill shortages.  Companies must consider targeting girls in schools, colleges and universities, as they are just as suited as men to take up a career in a high-tech, multi-skilled world of construction – but must be supported, mentored and coached to train in the industry and to remain in it.

‘Girls do not do that’ – is no longer the case, technology and innovation have changed the face of the construction industry but the construction industry in the UK has a problem with ‘image’ making it not so attractive to women, the UK also has a problem with the recruitment of female engineers, and does in fact have the lowest proportion of female engineers in Europe - just 9% compared to Sweden’s 25% or Germany’s 15%.  When it comes to the recruitment of female workers in Europe in the construction industry – Scandinavia leads the way, particularly Sweden, which has a very good construction industry.

Inspiring Women to Join the Construction Industry
Encouraging women into the construction industry will help solve the shortage of professional skills in the industry but it is important that companies send out the right message, that is, that the profession is open to women, there are equal opportunities and they can succeed in a career in construction.  Firms need to take more responsibility and investment in ‘talent spotting’ individuals.  It will certainly help matters if successful women currently working within the industry demonstrate the availability of career prospects, this is because girls need to identify with someone. The industry needs successful female role models.


The industry needs to appeal to women by emphasising that the quality of training is good, the construction worker is currently in demand, there is opportunity for career progression and influence women to stay in the industry and progress within it – a change of image and culture could have a significant positive effect on the industry.  Now is the time to refresh efforts to increase female participation.

If you are a female working in construction and would like to share your experience to encourage more women to join the industry please contact claire.doherty@potensis.com and we'll help share your story.

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