Getting more women into STEM fields is a critical part of boosting innovation in Australia. While government and industry initiatives are a step in the right direction for the science, technology and engineering fields, talent supply into the construction and infrastructure industries is falling below sustainable levels.
According to research undertaken by the Department of Employment in 2015, construction trades are one of the most difficult groups to recruit for. ‘Employers filled fewer vacancies and attracted smaller fields of candidates in 2015-16 than the previous year.’
There is a growing shortage of qualified tradespeople coming onto the market and adding to the challenge that employers currently face is the lack of women, comprising only 12% of the construction workforce (down from 14.8% a decade ago).
We invited a number of industry leaders from both the construction and infrastructure industries to kick start the conversation on the real state of play for diversity & inclusion; and what it will take to shift the dial.
One of the key findings was the need to foster the next generation of ‘tradies’. To increase future participation, we have to tackle the underlying biases at a much earlier age. Gender equality needs to start with early education for young children particularly at primary school age to focus on breaking the stereotypes around what is women’s work versus what is men’s work.
The future of work is full of exciting opportunities. Innovation, entrepreneurship and STEM experience will open up pathways to jobs and careers that don’t even exist today. But we need to quickly change current misperceptions that are limiting girls and women considering careers in construction, infrastructure and the trades where many of the future opportunities will exist.
Key findings included:
• The need to start breaking gender stereotypes about work at a much earlier age
• A focus on sourcing more hands on work experience opportunities for girls
• Encouraging girls to undertake STEM studies and careers including entrepreneurship
• Review the language of job titles used to attract candidates, for example diesel mechanic versus combustion engineer
• Ensuring there is a clear pathway for apprentice recruitment through to TAFE
• Increasing awareness of the breadth of roles and opportunities available in this critical industry
Where To Next?
At Human Agency we are committed to designing HR differently. We work together with our clients to co-create highly engaging, authentic diversity narratives that drive real change and realise potential.