Did you know that currently women only make up 11% of the total construction industry workforce and less than 3% of trades! Habitat Women aims to change this statistic one woman at a time.
What is Habitat Women?
Habitat women is a social enterprise formed by Habitat for Humanity Australia. We noticed the gender discrepancy in the industry, lack of employment opportunities for women and big barriers in education and training for women wanting to learn construction skills. Habitat Women provides a safe, inclusive space to start changing the way we view construction and other trade industries as well as to provide vulnerable women with opportunities they may otherwise not have access to.
Whilst working with a service for at-risk youth, it became apparent that employment is a key component that women and at-risk youth need to get into permanent accommodation and get their lives back on track. Many of these women face significant barriers that exclude them from the mainstream job market, including a lack of work experience. Habitat Women was formed to train these women in building and construction skills whilst also providing ‘pre-employment’ skills such as regular attendance, interview skills, working with others, and being punctual.
Most of the work we provide is building and maintenance for emergency and transitional accommodation services, but it may also include working on Habitat for Humanity construction sites or with our Disaster Resilience program.
A key component of Habitat Women, and what sets it apart is that the women are paid to learn skills whilst they are participating in the various program activities over a six-month duration. This enables them to move into employment pathways more readily and ensures that whilst they are learning they do not need to worry about adding to any financial stress.
What does Habitat Women want to achieve?
We have three main goals when it comes to Habitat Women;
- Provide access to education and employment pathways; these are both key factors in reducing gender inequality and disadvantage within our society.
- Address the inequality of women in the Construction industry
- Support specialist homelessness services and social housing
- Generate an income for reinvestment into Habitat for Humanity Australia’s other important programs.
How does Habitat Women help women?
- Creating quality employment opportunities and training for women entering the construction industry who want to undertake an apprenticeship or even start their own business; this is done with TAFE or Registered Training Organisations.
- Our 6-month program creates employment pathways for women. We provide training and paid work experience.
- We also partner with other non-profits to provide development and support with pre-employment skills such as teamwork, and other training
- Following the training we link women to supportive employment opportunities in the building industry.
- We also offer career path assistance, resume and interview preparation through HW’s Career Coach
How is Habitat Women changing Society?
Women face many barriers to employment in the building and construction industry. The physical nature of construction work is often offered as an explanation for the low level of female participation. However, the common use of tools and technologies mean that very few construction jobs, if any, require a level of physical ability outside the reach of most women in the labour force.
Habitat Women promotes Equality in the second-largest employment industry in Australia.
Habitat Women helps women overcome the barriers they face trying to enter jobs in the construction industry. So far, we have had big success. One Habitat Women member from our first cohort, Emma said she had lost her confidence after a long-term battle with mental illness. She said when the pandemic hit, her maintenance and home cleaning work dried up, leaving her feeling uncertain of her future when Habitat Women ignited a passion and purpose, she didn’t know she had.
“Before I started the program I had issues with confidence, but now I feel like I’m on the right track, it just feels really right. This program has already built up my confidence. I am meeting like-minded women who want to support each other on their journey and we are learning together how to navigate the industry and try new things.”
Juliet Howell, the Habitat Women Manager says the “enthusiasm [of the women] to be involved and learn things, which in most cases they have never thought they would get the opportunity to do, means our job of teaching is easy!”
We have some wonderful supporters helping us make Habitat Women a reality. The Bower, who aim to reduce waste and utilise recycled materials, provide a training space for our Habitat Women to upskill. The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation strongly believes in helping young people gain the skills, work, experience and opportunities to make a change.
If you would like to partner with us or get involved with Habitat Women head to our partner page here.