One of the toughest obstacles facing construction today undoubtedly must be the lack of enough workers. Surveys of construction managers around the country consistently call attention to a common problem - a shortage of skilled workers on jobsites.
This week (March 1-7) is Women in Construction Week. Led by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), it is a time to “highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry.” In addition, Women in Construction Week provides an occasion to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in construction and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry. At Cleveland Construction, we think this is also an opportune time to reflect on the solution women can provide towards resolving the current widespread labor shortage in construction.
The Industry Present and Future
While the industry has always been male-dominated, actively recruiting more women into construction is a smart strategy that is long overdue. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women accounted for only 10.3% of the workforce in the construction industry in 2019. Additionally, of that 10.3%, less than 1/3 accounted for women working at the field level.
The construction industry needs to continue to support campaigns that introduce women to the industry earlier and educate them on the opportunities that are out there before they decide on a career path.
NEW (Nontraditional Employment for Women) is just one example of an organization that helps train women to enter trade careers where they will receive competitive wages and the opportunity for continued career growth.
To draw more women to the industry, companies must first understand what elements in a construction career will be most appealing to women and then determine the best ways to market to these needs. There are many recommendations on how to increase the success rate of hiring women and improve retention. We offer a few helpful suggestions here:
Promote inclusiveness in the workplace. Also, utilize women interviewers in the hiring process and remove gender-biased words such as “tradesmen” in job position descriptions.
Promote the varied career opportunities available in construction, including the many technical, design, math-based, and IT positions, in order to attract greater interest from a more diverse group of people. In addition to showcasing the initial career opportunities, it is equally important to communicate the potential for growth within those careers.
Add women-specific apprenticeship programs and training programs for heavy equipment operation to help lessen the skills gap that may be present. Provide female PPE (personal protective equipment) that allows these trainees to perform their jobs comfortably and effectively.
Develop in-house/local mentorship groups specific to the needs of women. Company mentorship programs can help employees feel supported by your company. Women-focused groups such as NAWIC and Women in Operations also offer great opportunities for mentorship.
Benefits That Women Can Bring to Construction
In the final analysis, we at Cleveland Construction recognize the value women can bring to our industry. Problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and the ability to create and keep a schedule are all vital skills needed to navigate and be successful in the construction industry – and women naturally possess these same strengths. Accordingly, our efforts to recruit a diverse workforce will always include techniques directed towards attracting more women.