Plea to Aussie women to take up 'fantastic' jobs: 'Don't be scared'

Without women taking up these roles, the country is going to fall behind, experts warn.

Construction bosses around Australia are encouraging women to consider taking up jobs in the industry in a bid to combat staffing shortages, with data revealing the rate of new homes being built in the country is falling way behind demand.

In NSW alone, there would need to be a 75 per cent increase in new home builds in the next year — well above the 36,000 that's predicted — with a total of 314,000 new dwellings needed within the next five years.

So far, models suggest just 180,000 homes will be built by 2028, according to a NSW planning department briefing, the ABC reported. Glenn Maybury, a field officer for HTN Apprentice Services, is one Aussie calling for a higher female uptake in construction.

Two female construction workers.
Women make up just 13 per cent of the workforce in the construction sector, but there's now a push for that number to increase. Source: Getty.

"There's a big push for women in trades, so girls, this is for you too," he told the ABC. "Without women going into those trades, we won't have the numbers [of workers] that they foresee we need over the next five to seven years."

Only 13 per cent of construction workers are women

Nationally, women account for just 13 per cent of the workforce in the construction industry.

Vanessa Grady is one of these women.

Vanessa Grady in a roller truck.
Vanessa Grady has been working in construction for three years now after ditching her job in dentistry. Source: ABC.

The NSW resident said after leaving high school she never expected she'd end up in the building sector, but with three years' experience now under her belt, she won't be looking back.

"I never thought I'd be in this field. I was previously a dental nurse, so getting behind the wheel of a truck was not on my to-do list," Grady said, who now operates large machinery, including rollers.

"After two years on the ground, I thought I want to get in the roller, I want to drive the trucks," she explained, adding that with her boss's help, she got her truck licence and is now employed to construct roads across the state.

Civil engineer Phil Burns — who has three decades of construction experience — said there's been an influx of women taking up jobs in the sector, but there needs to be more.

"They start out on the roads and then see what else is happening, and like Vanessa, they ask to have a go," Burns said. "They operate the vehicles, the equipment, the plant and they are doing the labour side too.

"Don't be scared to let your kids have a go in the construction industry, they might just enjoy it."

Gender pay gap may be a deterrent

Despite the new pleas, the gender pay gap between men and women in the construction sector is pronounced.

According to a 2022 report by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), females on average across all industries receive $7.72 for every $10 earned by her male counterpart. In construction however, women can only expect to earn $6.94 — which now represents the largest gap across all sectors.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said in 2022, hourly earnings for men in construction sat at $37.20, compared to $35.00 for women.

Though, there are grants available to encourage female participation in the industry. They can range between $30,000 and $300,000.

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