New Zealand's construction industry takes first step to tackling lack of diversity

NZ's construction sector is crying out for change

New Zealand's construction industry takes first step to tackling lack of diversity

New Zealand’s construction sector is pushing for greater diversity in the workforce to overcome the sector’s crippling skills shortage and expand career pathways for all Kiwis.

In partnership with the Construction Sector Accord, Diversity Works New Zealand has launched two surveys to get a better picture of the current roadblocks within the industry, from both ends of the workforce. A survey of senior leaders will give a top-down view of diversity in the sector, and a second anonymous survey will offer employees’ experience.

Maretha Smit, Chief Executive of Diversity Works New Zealand, told HRD the current talent shortage is a burning issue in the industry and it’s already hampering the sector’s ability to carry out current and future projects.

“Greater diversity can help address that talent shortage, but we need a better understanding of existing workplace practices, and what inclusive pathways would look like for more women, Māori, Pacific people, disabled and neurodiverse people and those from the Rainbow community,” she said. “The sector also needs the ability to attract and support people across all ages and life stages.”

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Launched in 2019, the Construction Sector Accord is a shared commitment between New Zealand’s government and the industry to drive a more high-performing sector. It aims to bring leaders from both sides together to unlock growth by addressing the current challenges, which include skills and labour shortages, unclear regulations, a lack of coordinated leadership, an uncertain pipeline of work and a culture of shifting risk. The pandemic and New Zealand’s closed international borders have exacerbated many of those pre-existing challenges.

The Accord’s Transformation Director Dean Kimpton said it’s vital for as many people as possible to have their say in the research to give a true picture of what’s happening in the industry.

“We know that the sector is crying out for skilled labour, and we also know that for people to bring their best selves to work, they need to feel safe and valued,” he said. “Fostering greater diversity in our workforce is a fantastic way to get great people into construction, and to keep them in it.”

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