The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and women from a number of its member companies are appealing to secondary level girls to explore their construction career options at stands it is hosting at the popular I Wish events in Cork and Dublin.
This is the first year that I Wish events, which promote STEM subjects to secondary level girls, have had such a heavy focus on construction. Many CIF members, such as Mercury Engineering, Designer Group, BAM, Sisk, Ardmac, Collen Construction, Mac Group and Glenveagh Properties PLC are eager to tell young women about the many career options the industry can offer them.
Students are also getting the chance to experience how virtual and augmented reality are now a crucial part of many modern construction projects thanks to innovative new company VRAI.
Traditional Disengagement Between Girls and Construction
Dermot Carey, Director of Safety and Training with CIF said there has been a traditional disengagement from a very young age between girls and construction, its related courses and subjects unless they have a family member in the business.
“We are trying to change this trend and let young women know that there are many roles in the industry for them and many female role models in the industry already playing a significant part in some of Ireland and the world’s greatest construction projects.
“We are delighted to take part in the I Wish events this year as the ethos behind these events is very much in keeping with the CIF’s #BuildingEquality campaign to increase the level of female participation in construction and support those working in the industry.
“As the construction sector recovers and evolves, we are increasingly competing with other industries for talented young people, who not only want to work in a diverse workplace but expect diversity as a matter of course. There are major opportunities in the construction industry for young people. We would like to see more young women considering construction as the viable, modern, innovative and interesting career option it could be for them.”
A Career with ‘A World Purpose.’
According to a recent, I Wish survey, 75 % of girls felt that helping other people was important when they choose their career. Respondents also specified that they want a career which has ‘a world purpose.’
Rather than fight girls’ perceptions of STEM, I Wish events work to explore the work girls want to do, ie, a job with purpose, by explaining how STEM can solve some of the world’s most significant problems- from climate change and urbanisation, to homelessness, food shortages and poverty and beyond.
Dublin I Wish Event
The Dublin I Wish event, which takes place at the RDS, Dublin, on Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th February, combine talks and interaction with female role models with interactive exhibition spaces where companies engage with the students directly.
Male and female role models from across the construction industry will be on hand at the CIF I Wish stand at the RDS over the coming days.
STEM Role Model
As a STEM role model Carole Smillie, Project Manager with Bennett Property, will also address attendees as part of a panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon, giving students an insight into her exciting career to date. As construction manager on a huge project in Dublin recently – the Royal College of Surgeons Building on Dublin’s York Street – Carole featured in RTE’s The Big Build programme with Dermot Bannon.
Carole Smillie also features in the CIF’s #BuildingEquality video to break down perceptions of precisely who or what type of person works in the construction industry by visiting young school children between the ages of five and seven and showing them this project.
146,500 Employed in Construction
At the end Quarter 3, 2018 construction provided direct employment for 146,500 people. That figure represents 6.4% of total employment.
By 2020, the volume of construction output is forecast to reach €25bn (in 2017 prices) or €30bn in current prices, which is equivalent to around 8.8% of GDP.
Of concern to the CIF, however, is the reduced intake in higher level education due to the recession which has led to lower numbers of graduates from construction-related courses entering the labour market, with overall output dropping by 50%. For example, the reduced supply of job-ready civil and building service engineers is expected to impact the sector as the demand for these skills increases further in 2019.
1 in 10 Construction Workers Female
In February 2018, the CIF commissioned a survey to discover precisely how many women are working in the Irish construction industry, in what roles and at what levels. This survey showed that over 70% of construction companies recognise the need for more women in the industry. However, on average approximately only 1 out of 10 construction workers are female. The survey also found that on construction sites, 99% of workers are male, while in offsite roles, 54% are male and 46% are female. Of those women working in construction roles considered ‘offsite’ the majority work in administration, finance, HR and marketing.
In September 2018, the CIF launched its first Diversity and Inclusion Guidance document for member companies in a bid to further the industry’s progress in this area.
For more information on the CIF’s campaign to increase the level of female participation in construction by highlighting role models’ stories, visit: www.cif.ie/building-equality