New research finds more women are entering the construction sector than ever before

Despite decades of construction being a heavily male dominated industry, new research from premium housebuilder, Redrow, has revealed that the ‘boys only club’ perception is dwindling as three in five (66%) young women already work in, have considered working in or are open to working in construction, up 17% from 2023.

The survey of 1,000 young adults found that it’s not just the potential high salary young women find appealing (39%), but also the opportunity to have a long-term career (26%) and the ability to set up their own business later down the line (25%). The increase in women entering the sector could be attributed to a rise in female role models. In fact, over two fifths (42%) of women surveyed want to work for a company that has female or LGBTQ leaders.

With financial fears a big worry for everyone, two in five (41%) 16–24-year-olds associate an apprenticeship with earning money while studying and not incurring student debt, highlighting the unbeatable financial benefit of this alternative educational route.

Apprenticeship divide
Despite young people embracing the apprenticeship route, there remains a stark gap in the advice given by both schools and parents to young people when it comes to choosing their next education move.

Three in five (60%) of those surveyed admit going to university is or was more encouraged at their school, with 48% feeling there’s a general stigma associated with being an apprentice rather than pursuing higher education. Over 42% of those surveyed also say that their parents don’t know much about apprenticeships and disagree that there is equal focus on apprenticeships and other routes vs university (35%).

While unsurprisingly parents remain the main driver of influence on their children’s career path, the ongoing cost of living crisis has led many parents to reevaluate their thinking on what constitutes a good further education choice for their children.

Parents’ attitudes towards apprenticeships
·         Two thirds would encourage their kids into an apprenticeship 66%
·         More likely than degrees to gain skills relevant to career path 44%
·         Avoid student debt and gain greater financial independence 56%

Challenging construction perceptions

In 2020, over two fifths (44%) of young people believed a career in construction was dominated by men. In 2024 this is now 39%, with just under a third (32%) of those surveyed admitting they’ve considered a career in construction.

When it comes to choosing this industry, it’s clear it is about much more than just earning a great wage. Young people surveyed think a career in construction offers the opportunity for gaining skills from a variety of roles.

Emily Shaw, an apprentice for Redrow’s commercial department, says: “Despite starting my further education at university to study law, after two years I fell out of love with the law industry and realised it simply wasn’t the right choice for me. With my family working in construction, becoming a Redrow apprentice seemed like the perfect fit, and I honestly love it. Not only do I get to learn while being paid, but I also have a wonderfully supportive team around me too.”

Karen Jones, HR Director for Redrow, said, “With such positive opportunities from this career choice, it’s no wonder that in this societal climate, women are bravely challenging the norm and exploring new industries altogether. The construction industry is such an exciting one to be in and there needs to be more women coming into the industry.

To achieve this, there needs to be more education to promote the fact that construction doesn’t just mean being a bricklayer or out on site, there are so many opportunities for women to succeed, do well and make a difference to communities. As part of this, we are constantly looking for ways to make our workplace more inclusive, whether that’s on-site or office-based roles.”

Darryl Stewart, responsible for the National House Building Council’s apprentice training programmes and hubs, said: In recent years, house builders have found it more challenging to recruit people for a range of reasons. Historically, it’s an industry which has been perceived as being more male-dominated and currently it’s also facing an ageing workforce. This means we must find ways to encourage people from all walks of life to join the sector.

It is an industry which offers a fantastic range of careers and an apprenticeship in the house building industry is a pathway into a rewarding and well-paid career that can make a real difference.”

This National Apprenticeship Week we are encouraging more young people to consider a career in construction with over 40 nationwide trade positions being released this year.