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| EDUCATION AND TRAINING
women; that young women faced
more barriers and needed thicker
skin to survive in the industry than
men; and that if young women
started a trade at TAFE, they rarely
stuck at it.
What infuences counsellors’
knowledge of construction
careers, and how does this
affect their advice?
As may be expected, greater
experience working as a career
counsellor, and also personally
knowing someone working in
the construction industry, were
both linked to a higher self-rated
knowledge of construction careers
compared with other types of
careers. Further, career counsellors
with more experience and a higher
self-rated knowledge of construction
careers were more likely to perceive
construction to be a good career
option for both young men and
young women. Gender differences
were found, however, with career
counsellors reporting construction
to be a better career option for
young men than for young women,
and directing young men into
construction careers more frequently
than young women.
However, perceiving construction
to be a good career option did not
automatically lead to the action
of guiding young people of either
gender into taking up a career in
construction! Career counsellors
with a personal acquaintance in
construction, though, were more
likely to encourage young women
to consider pursuing a construction
career than those counsellors who
did not have this additional insight
into the industry.
What does this study say we can
do to encourage more women?
With skill shortages an ongoing
issue for construction in Australia,
attracting young people, regardless
of gender, into the industry on a
long-term career path is essential if
the construction industry is to build
and maintain a sustainable workforce
throughout the 21st century.
The most important information
to emerge from this data was that
personally knowing someone in
construction had a positive impact
on career counsellors' knowledge,
and on their perception of the
industry as a good career option
for young men and young women.
Having this personal acquaintance
also increased the likelihood that
the career counsellors would
encourage young women to pursue
an expressed interest in construction
as a vocation. Proactive strategies,
such as school information sessions,
are an easy attainable starting point.
Annual 'chat with a tradie' and 'chat
with an engineer or project manager'
sessions could provide career
counsellors and female students
with immediate access to relevant
information about construction
careers. Who better to advise
young women than women already
working in the industry?
School curriculums could also
include educational site visits
and collaborative learning, where
building projects at or near
schools are used as a resource
incorporated into practical
mathematics, science and
management subjects at primary
and secondary school levels.
Programs like this could break
down some of the barriers and
misconceptions that exist about
working in the construction industry.
NAWIC, and other organisations
in the industry, could play an
important role here, by collaborating
with local schools.
For more information, please
contact: Associate Professor
Master of Construction
Faculty of Architecture, Building
The University of Melbourne
(03) 8344 8762.
Valerie Francis is a long-term advocate of women in engineering
and construction. She is a civil engineer who founded the Women
in Engineering Group in South Australia in 1985. She is known
internationally for her research on gender equity and her innovative
work practices. In 2012, Francis was awarded the National Crystal
Vision Award by NAWIC for more than 30 years of service to women
in construction. She acknowledges Rudi Schneider of Contruction and
Property Services Industry Skills Council (CPSISC) and Laurice Temple
of NAWIC for distributing the survey, as well as the participants at the
Australian Careers Service (ACS) seminars for their involvement.
With skill shortages an ongoing issue
for construction in Australia, attracting
young people, regardless of gender, into
the industry on a long-term career path
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