We're Providing Pathways for Young Women into the Construction Industry

Johnstone Construction has a Secret to Meeting Construction’s Demand for Talent

We all know the statistics…
The Auckland construction market is predicted to reach $25 billion in 2018.
32,000 people will need to join the construction industry by then to meet the demand.

Where are all these additional people going to come from?

Women make up half the population but hold less than 12% of construction industry jobs. Combine this with New Zealand’s youth unemployment rates at 15%, almost 3 times the national unemployment rate, and it is obvious that encouraging young people, especially women, into the industry will be crucial to keeping up with the growth in the construction sector.

But it is not so easy as ‘build it and they will come’…. or ask them to build it and they will come.

Managing Director of Johnstone Construction, Hugh Johnstone, spent time looking for a new carpenter and wanted to bring on board a qualified woman for the role to increase the diversity of the team. However, after spending time working with recruiters and his networks to find someone and coming up short, he realised that it is not just actively looking for young women to fill roles but the building of a pipeline that supports them at every stage of the process that will ensure there are skilled young people ready to meet the industry demand.

“It was a wakeup call when I went looking for female candidates and couldn’t find them,” he says.
“We knew further diversifying our workforce would be a good thing but it was after spending time trying to find female carpenters and project managers that we realized we had to step up and create the pathways and opportunities to encourage more women into the industry.”

A multi-pronged approach to the challenge

Johnstone Construction has taken this challenge seriously and are committed to supporting young people and especially women into the industry in a variety of ways:

  1. Becoming a key sponsor and joining the committee of the Women in Trades conference promoting a career in construction to young female school leavers.
  2. Hosting a student from Kelston Girls High School’s Trades Academy for a term of work experience in a placement that will hopefully become an ongoing opportunity for young women considering the construction industry as a career.
  3. Establishing a scholarship for a young woman attending a Level 4 or above Carpentry course that covers fees and tools, provides paid work experience during breaks and will lead into an apprenticeship with Johnstone Construction at the end of her studies.
  4. In discussions with ATEED to be a key partner in the #buildAKL campaign providing a young person with 4 weeks paid work experience to promote careers in construction.
  5. Joined the Auckland committee of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to provide support and resources in their efforts to promote the construction industry to women. 
  6. Implemented leadership and development programmes in-house to support current team members to step up and take on mentoring and training roles with while providing a clear pathway to career progression for anyone joining the company.

Building partnerships with training providers key

Rangi Williams, Relationships Manager at Maori & Pasifika Trades Training and founder of the Women in Trades Conference, was thrilled at the support shown by Johnstone Construction for the event and hope it becomes the template for other construction companies to follow.

 “The Women in Trades Conference has inspirational speakers and celebrates the achievements of women already in the industry but also needs industry to get behind what we are doing and provide initiatives to inspire, promote and celebrating the success of women in the construction and building industry,” says Rangi.

“We are delighted to have Johnstone Construction get behind such an important event and a great role model for the industry and we hope to see even more construction companies follow their lead and come on board next year as sponsors of the event or sponsoring a young woman with a training award.”

Our success story

Johnstone Construction has already had success filling a traditional construction role in a non-traditional way. Operations Manager Susy Pryde started her career as a successful professional athlete and high-performance coach before taking on a professional career as a Barrister and Solicitor. She joined Johnstone Construction 2 years ago and has been a pivotal part of the company’s growth contributing her legal knowledge, management expertise and vast experience in performance management to the development and implementation of the companies administrative and management systems.

Susy loves working in the construction industry and hopes to see many more women take up the diverse roles available. She surprised herself with how well suited she is to the industry given her professional background.

Susy has found -
“Most people in this industry are honest, hard-working people. I appreciate and admire the skill that’s required to do the job, working toward a goal, being under pressure, managing adversity and an honest day’s hard physical work – the very same qualities which I love about sport. I also like the physical progress of a building or site – it’s marvelous to witness.”

To find out more about our Training Award and download an application form visit our career page.