There was some surprise this week when government figures were released showing that only 1% of apprentices are women. Out of 9’587 apprentices, only 52 were female.
One area where this gender imbalance is having a huge effect is the construction sector.
Last week, AECOM released a statement which included the following warning, “The construction sector in Ireland must improve gender diversity if it is to tackle the industry-wide skills shortage.” At the moment, men account for 90% of the construction sector’s employee’s.
Speaking ahead of UK Construction Week, which runs from October 18th at the NEC, Birmingham, Director, Nathan Garnett is encouraging more women to consider construction as a career. UK Construction Week is hoping to change the image of the sector and make it more attractive to female applicants. It is estimated that in Britain alone over 250’000 new construction jobs will be created over the next five years. This is a huge opportunity for apprentices and graduates. This is echoed by an Irish Director of AECOM, John O Reagan.
O Reagan believes that flexible hours, days worked and the option for working from home can attract women to various construction sectors. AECOM have set themselves a target of making 40% of their European staff women by 2020. Like the UK, the projection for Irish construction jobs is also high, and with over 80’000 new jobs expected to be created by 2020, O Reagan believes that it is only through diversity and overcoming previous biases that we will manage to fill these vacancies.
One innovative element of AECOM’s recruitment strategy is to raise the profile of its female employees in order to encourage others into the construction and property sector.
Casey Elsby, a crane operator with construction firm Laing O’ Rourke, believes that choosing a construction career path can be of huge benefit to women and will strengthen and diversify a person’s career profile. With women making up half of the overall career pool, the construction sector cannot afford to ignore such numbers based on the job vacancy projections currently being forecast.