Male-Dominated Industries

09 Jun 2011 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for the Status a Women a question on the subject of male-dominated industries.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Earlier this year, in response to a question about the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Bill, the minister described the construction industry as one that is predominantly male dominated. Indeed, in a publication available on the Office for Women's website in relation to women's employment in South Australia, it confirms that just 9.5 per cent of those working in the construction industry are female. The Construction Industry Training Board has actively sought to run programs, such as Doorways to Construction, that specifically aim to attract females into the construction industry. My questions are:

1. What is the Office for Women's policy on female employment analysis?

2. Is it planning on doing more studies?

3. What, if any, collaboration has occurred between the Office for Women and industries such as the construction industry to improve female participation?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Public Sector Management, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for Gambling) (14:28): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. Indeed, as part of our 2010 election commitment, the Rann government committed to the development of a promotional campaign to encourage women to access training, particularly in high-demand, non-traditional industries, such as mining, defence and construction. This initiative is known as the Women and Work initiative, and the Office for Women is working with the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology and the Department of Education and Children's Services to develop that campaign.

I am advised that a working group consisting of members of these agencies continues to meet on a regular basis to assist in progressing that initiative. I am confident that I have spoken in this house before about this matter, but I will briefly mention some of the work that has come from that. The Powerful Pathways for Women, the ETSA pre-employment program, was the first project under the Women and Work initiative. It is a partnership with ETSA Utilities.

Powerful Pathways includes training for 15 women in the northern suburbs and it commenced in March this year. The training program comprises a certificate II in women's education, certificate I in information technology and certificate I in electrotechnology, culminating in 10 days of practical training at ETSA Training Centre at Davenport near Port Augusta. On completion of the training, I understand that ETSA will offer suitable applicants an apprenticeship and the training also offers employment pathways to the mining and defence industries.

I am advised that the successful participants commenced their TAFE studies on 7 March and are due to complete the course in July this year. I think it is next week that I plan to go out and actually visit this training group—it is some time soon, anyway. I am advised that ETSA contributed $47,000 toward the program, Playford Alive and others $15,000, and DFEEST and others contributed moneys as well. The A-G's has also contributed various promotional materials and such like, which I will not go into the details of.

The other important program is Constructing Roads to a Bright Future, the urban superway extension project. Constructing Roads to a Bright Future is a pre-employment program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women run by the Mining, Energy and Engineering Academy. It follows a 10-week training program where 30 men and women will be selected for employment with John Holland Construction, which is one of the main contractors for the superway. The program includes mentoring of each of the participants throughout the training.

I am advised that the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations also provided funding for this, as did DFEEST. My office also provided some additional funding to provide specific mentorship for those women participating in that program. I have noted that the Premier's Council for Women has also been lobbying very hard to ensure that, in terms of the next round of South Australia's strategic target plans, we include a greater gender disaggregation of information.

I am also very supportive of that and they have lobbied and pushed very hard to ensure that there is a greater disaggregation of information around our targets so that we are better able to monitor the impacts of our policy on gender. First, that helps us understand how we are progressing in terms of how effective our policy positions have been on the different gender groups and, therefore, helps us provide better information in terms of planning future programs and initiatives to ensure that they are gender sensitive.