Women are severely underrepresented in the construction industry in South Africa, says Adv. Brenda Madumise, Chairperson of the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).

Madumise says the latest reports from Statistic South Africa (Stats SA) indicate that women make up a small percentage of the total workforce in the construction industry.

According to Stats SAs year on year figures as of April this year, the industry employs over a million people and women make up only about 10 percent of this figure, says Madumise.

Madumise says the NHBRC would like to see more women participate in the industry both as employees and employers.

Based on figures from global professional services group PwCs inaugural 2013 report on the construction industry, which analysed the top 10 JSE-listed construction firms, the industry has a combined revenue of well over R150 billion and a net annual profit in excess of R3 billion.

South Africa cannot afford to exclude women from a sector that contributes so much to the economy, says Madumise.

The construction industry is driven mainly by government spend on infrastructure and Madumise says the urgency in implementing the National Development Plan, which has placed a particular emphasis on infrastructure development, will continue to be the main catalyst of the industry’s growth.

Madumise says given the fact that government is such a major contributor to the industry’s income, opportunities exist for women to become significant players in the industry. This is part of the rationale behind the NHBRC-GIBS Women Empowerment Programme, which aims to up-skill women in the construction industry.

The second leg of the initiative has just commenced with about 90 participants. These were chosen from more than 600 applications.
We believe that there is an appetite by women to participate in the construction sector. This is shown by the number of applications that we received from women who wanted to be part of the 2014 NHBRC-GIBS Women Empowerment Programme.

Madumise says clearly women are not intimidated by the challenges of the industry, they just need a little help to open doors and as the NHBRC we are going to do our part.

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