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Women in construction and the digital revolution.

Most experts agree – there are still too few women working in the construction industry. There are only around 300,000 female staff, about 14% of the workforce actively involved in the building business according to recent estimates, but those figures could dramatically change over the next 10 years as we witness a new digital revolution.

While that 300,000 figure has remained fairly static since 2016 there is now every reason to believe that we could be looking to attract up 100,000 new recruits by 2025 as the industry continues to embrace these digital technologies.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that you no longer have to get your hands dirty to work in the built environment. Software systems continue to make the building process more efficient helping to save time and money and as a result more and more women are being attracted to a career in construction.

This digital revolution, pioneered by companies such as ours, has significantly improved and simplified the use of data in construction, particularly with O&M Manuals (Operation and Maintenance) – helping to improve health and safety and a wide range of additional processes used in the building business.

More importantly the digital revolution is now offering women real career opportunities to advance in a booming industry that has for too long been dominated by male stereotypes -and most right-minded people can see that construction is benefitting from the change.

There is increasing evidence that when more women are involved with the building process health and safety significantly improves and there are fewer problems with snagging and other issues that delay construction.

Construction also offers major opportunities for women to succeed, to improve team performance, contribute fresh perspectives, and advance their careers. On average, women who work construction can earn up to 30% more than traditional female-dominated careers.

Historically, the construction industry has been slow in adopting technology, but over the next decade we can expect to see the integration of machine learning, robotics within workflows, 3D printing, and building information modelling (BIM) and much more, helping to deliver better productivity, improved profitability, and enhanced innovation capabilities – all of them offering incredible career opportunities, particularly for women.

In turn, construction companies that use the new technologies will deliver better quality, service and reliability because they will be better positioned to reduce inefficiencies, streamline processes and improve workflows. By going digital, firms can integrate data more effectively and do away with data silos, to bring in the much-needed visibility in the process.

That said we all know that Construction continues to face massive skills shortages. According to the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) forecasts indicate that we can expect to see 168,500 construction jobs created between now and 2023 — up from the 2018-2022 figure of 158,000.

The next 10 years will also see a huge loss in workers in the construction industry as many employees reach pension age. From this, we can determine that the rate that new workers begin a career in the construction industry will not currently match the rate at which so many will retire.

It would be be simple to suggest that we could address these shortages by attracting more women into construction, but in spite of massive efforts by the CITB and other organisations the message has still not reached the next generation and women are still reluctant to join our industry.

It is why I am convinced that it is the digital revolution that holds the key by highlighting the leadership opportunities that exist in every part of construction Women and men frequently think differently and have a different attitude to problem solving, so companies will benefit from having fresh approaches and different strategies. As well as added perspectives, a diverse workforce can also increase creativity and productivity.

The construction industry is also lagging behind in terms of having a more equal gender balance and when this is corrected it will have a more positive impact on a company’s reputation. So we can see – it is all to play for and that change is taking place now – the future really is digital; the future is the will to involve more women in our industry and from where I am sitting - it looks very exciting.

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