Top 5 Reasons Women to Consider a Career in the Construction Industry
To achieve measurable progress in their social responsibility efforts, many companies are seeking to demonstrate gender diversity in their recruitment strategies. At the same time, more and more young women are being encouraged to consider career opportunities in fields that have historically been male dominated, such as in construction. Now is the time for women to break into this industry that is teetering on the brink of desperation for workers. According to a recent Globe and Mail article about the eminent shortages of skilled-trades labour in Canada: “more than 257,000 construction workers will retire by 2029, and even accounting for modest post-COVID-19 growth and anticipating the entry of young workers joining the industry, the organization anticipates a shortfall of nearly 82,000 workers by 2029.” (1)
It may not be common knowledge, but the construction industry offers opportunity for competitive wages, especially with specialized training and experience. Plus, in many positions there is opportunity for paid overtime and trade union rates both of which contribute to good compensation. The opportunity for higher pay is increased where there are shortages in the labour force. “The higher the skill, typically the older the cohort, in occupations such as carpenters, painters and especially crane operators.” (3) With the expected retirement of these workers over the next decade will come the depletion of a skilled labour pool, and with it, the opportunity for women to step in to fill that void and reap the rewards.
As we have come to learn over the last year, construction is largely considered an essential service industry. There will always be a need for construction and the skilled people to design, manage and build. Despite the economic impact of COVID-19, the construction industry in sectors such as residential, infrastructure, institutional and health care, have remained vital and as a result, profitable. If this experience has taught us anything, it is the importance of finding a career that is resistant to elimination, be it by advances in artificial intelligence or a pandemic.
Julie Zabizewsi (left) and Kim Van Leeuwen (right) at Eataly team building event in March 2020.
Like women, the construction industry is continually growing and evolving, and so too does the opportunity for us to find a rewarding career path with unlimited possibilities. A career in this industry has the potential to evolve in alignment with personal life stage specific needs as they shift. The average individual today can expect to change jobs roughly 15 times in their career (2). In an industry with as much variety as construction, it is possible to explore a wide range of different jobs while maintaining the same professional network and by leveraging previous training, experience, and seniority to reach new levels of success. This is even more meaningful for women whose careers are often interrupted or require flexibility to have and raise children or look after elderly parents. The types of jobs in this industry lend themselves well to a variety of arrangements, environments, and conditions such as professional office settings, outdoor or indoor physical labour, full or part time shift work, etc. Here are just some examples:
- Architect/ Engineering/ Design
- Trade’s work
- Equipment operators
- Project Management/ Coordination Estimating
- Health & Safety
- Client PM/ Construction Representative
- Facility Management
Ask a woman what she looks for in a career and somewhere on the list among equal pay and work-life balance you will probably find descriptive words like, rewarding, inspiring or recognition. Words where the common theme translates simply to wanting a job that has meaning. A career in construction can offer this unequivocally. It is incredibly rewarding to see the physical manifestation of your work. Whether it be a house, hospital, road, or an office space, your efforts – at whatever stage in the development of the project – have tangible outcomes that benefit society. Think of how inspiring it would be to go to work every day knowing you are instrumental in building something of historical or monumental importance. Something that will be utilized, lived in, admired, or simply exist for generations to come, or perhaps which makes others’ lives better in some way. The women who are succeeding now can feel proud of the legacy they are building through the roles they have already played in the battle for gender equality and by paving the way for the next generation of women in construction.
Written by: Kim Van Leeuwen, Business Development Manager, Vestacon Ltd.
Kim has been in the industry for over 20 years. Her career began in Interior Design, followed by a role in Project Management and most recently Kim joined the team at Vestacon Ltd., in Business Development.
In collaboration with: Julie Zabizewski Project Manager, H&S Manager, Vestacon Ltd.
Julie has been with Vestacon in various roles for 11 years and was recently promoted to Health & Safety Manager. In December 2020 Julie was recognized as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Canadian Construction by On-Site Magazine and SitePartners.
Resources for women in construction