As we celebrate Women’s History Month in March, employers often talk about the importance of increasing gender equity in the workforce. In no other industry is that goal more crucial than construction, where an overwhelming 89% of workers are male, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
March 6-12 is National Women in Construction Week, a time to highlight the accomplishments of women in the industry, as well as to encourage more women to enter the construction workforce.
The proud history of women in construction goes back to 1883, when the Brooklyn Bridge was built under the management of Emily Roebling. Although un-der-represented, women are continuing to break ground in the construction industry. From 2014-2019, the number of women-owned construction firms has grown 64% and now 44% of the top 100 construction contracting firms have women in executive roles.
Associated Builders and Contractors, a proud partner of the National Association of Women in Construction, is committed to breaking gender stereotypes and demonstrating to the next generation that there are countless opportunities for women in the construction industry. That is why Associated Builders and Contractors of NJ is actively recruiting more young women into our registered Apprenticeship Training program.
ABC New Jersey’s Apprenticeship program provides paid, on-the-job training, and classroom based theoretical education in 15 skilled craft trades. Working alongside local schools and businesses we provide pre-apprenticeship construction readiness training (CORE) and can help prospective apprentices get hired by one of more than 1,100 of our member companies. Our apprentices earn while they learn, pursuing an education while working full-time on the path to a successful lifetime career
This month we shine a long overdue light on the gender and equity issues that exist within the construction industry. Historically, there have been significant barriers to entry for women and people of color in union construction shops. Alternatively, Open Shop construction has demonstrated that inclusion and equality are a priority when it comes to workforce development. Our members agree that race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation are not reasons to exclude people from employment and education. ABC-NJ’s Open Shop members currently offer jobs and opportunities for over 165,000 workers in New Jersey.
ABC-NJ’s United States Department of Labor registered Apprenticeship Training Program continues to grow and explore opportunities in diverse communities throughout New Jersey, despite only being in existence for two years, much of that a worldwide pandemic. Training is offered in 15 Labor Department approved trades. Apprentices benefit from on-the-job learning from an experienced mentor, combined with education courses to support work-based learning. All of these programs comply with strict federal and state requirements for formal apprenticeship and prevailing wage work. Upon successful completion, craft workers are eligi-ble to be recognized at the journey level in their trade and receive a certificate of completion.
According to Business Insider, 2.2 million more construction workers will be needed over the next three years for home construction alone. Our Apprentice-ship Training program helps businesses thrive by building a highly skilled, highly productive pipeline of qualified workers during a universal labor shortage.
Workforce diversity and gender equity shouldn’t be a buzzword employers talk about a few times a year. Apprenticeship Training programs take us on the path to real solutions for both employers and workers. The Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey continues to lead the charge for women in the construc-tion industry.
Samantha DeAlmeida is president of Associated Builders and Contractors of New Jersey.