The civil construction industry has for many years been an almost exclusively male workforce. The number of women employed within the sector still remains a small percentage of the total workforce, with men still dominating traditional civil construction roles. However, in recent years, the industry has seen an increase of females interested in civil construction roles.
The civil industry is a unique one; over 70% of revenue flows from government, making it very strict, compliant and procedure focused. Because governments are careful with their money, performance and efficiency is high in the minds of employers. When we look at the nature of the work, the reality is there is no reason a female cannot perform effectively in civil construction roles.
So why is the percentage of women in civil so low?
Because we, as an industry, have done a terrible job of communicating how rewarding this industry is to work in and, on the whole, we have not considered well enough the effects on females of working in a male dominated space. Rather, the industry has been too focused on getting the job done.
CCF NSW has been working with women and employers within the industry to change this...
In June 2017 CCF NSW launched the CCF NSW Women in Civil Program. The Program has one goal which is:
To encourage more Women to Join and Remain in the civil industry.
It's been a well-received program by both women and employers, yet it's a small program compared to the enormity of the task. We need to do better as an industry.
CCF NSW has conducted Member surveys on gender participation levels in civil-related roles, and these levels have continued to grow. In March 2017 the rate of female participation in civil-related roles was 4.2%; in February 2021 it was 5.7%; and in December 2022 it grew further to 9.9%.
An October 2021 report from Infrastructure Australia in fact shows a rising nationwide skill shortage across the construction sector, with peak demand for skills from mid-2023 and beyond forecasted to be 48% higher than the available supply and labour shortages anticipated to be three times higher than 2017-2018.
The problem we have is less about culture; it’s more to do with demand exceeding supply. And as an industry we have failed dismally to present ourselves well enough to women and we need to communicate far better what our industry offers.
To secure NSW’s future infrastructure construction pipeline we have to do better…
Our Vision is Equality…‘50 by 50’
CCF NSW's vision of '50 by 50' is to achieve equal gender participation in civil by 2050.
Announced publicly on 26th October 26, 2021, the vision makes it very clear that a set of measurable goals are needed to encourage more women to join and remain in the industry.
This is a lofty goal, but it is not possible to set a goal in this topic that reflects anything less than equality.
And here is how we will get there…
CCF NSW has submitted a wide-ranging Proposal to the NSW Government to achieve 50 by 50. It is a significant enhancement to our existing Women in Civil Program…WiC 2.0 for want of a better descriptor.
The Proposal provides a coherent, structured framework for willing engagement between stakeholders that will lift participation rates.
It has been constructed following consultation with female workers and employers from within CCF NSW’s diverse 430 strong Membership. It was developed following six years of work by CCF NSW with women and employers of all sizes in the industry. Our Membership includes Tier 1 contractors to small family-owned companies. Our Membership covers regional and Sydney-based businesses.
The Proposal includes a Base Solution with two enhancements. Importantly, it focuses on:
- Improving all aspects of the Supply side (the number of women wanting to join the industry), and
- the Demand side (ensuring we better retain those who join)
To demonstrate the industry supports equality as its vision, CCF NSW asked a sample of its Membership if they would be willing to commit in writing to supporting ‘50 by 50’ and to actively support greater female participation by becoming Employer Champions for Women in Civil. Within just days, over 35 employers from Tier 1 multi-national contractors to small regional family businesses and industry stakeholders such as TAFE NSW signed the commitment. And more will be coming…
So critical do we consider this Program to the sustainability of the industry that CCF NSW is prepared to invest in each of its years an amount equivalent to over 20% of our current revenue. The NSW Government’s requested contribution represents less than one half of one thousandth of a percent of what the Government is spending on infrastructure each year.
CCF NSW is leading the way.
Read the Media Release here.
Download here the Public Version of our “Securing NSW’s Infrastructure Plan” issued to the NSW Government on 19th October 2021.
See our Employers Championing Women in Civil here.
Watch the video and hear about the CCF NSW Women in Civil Mentoring Program from some of our participants here.
Learn more about our Virtual Community here.