New program launches to help refugee women enter the construction workforce

skilled migrants, TAFE, women in construction, women in engineering,


The University of Newcastle launches a program to help women from migrant or refugee backgrounds who are interested in working in the construction industry.

With 11,000 young migrant and refugee women residing in the Hunter and on the Central Coast, the University of Newcastle saw an opportunity to help support more females to break into the male-dominated industry.

Participants in the Social and Economic Resilience of Young Migrants and Refugee Women Program will be trained by the University of Newcastle and TAFE NSW, and will take part in industry placements in construction projects. The research program will see these women receive the education and training they need to develop fulfilling and, life-changing careers.

Professor Temitope Egbelakin, from the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle, said the newly established program offers mentoring and networking opportunities for participants.

Mentoring is critical for women entering the construction sector. It provides them with opportunities to become more competent in their roles and increase their ability to succeed in a male-dominated environment,” said Professor Egbelakin.

“These mentors are passionate and keen to provide support and nurturing relationships and connections for young women seeking to enter and succeed in trades-based careers.”

The program is assisted by a generous grant of $88,600 from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.

“I would like to thank Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for their help in making this important project possible,” Professor Egbelakin said.

Saeedeh, a participant in the program, is looking forward to the future possibilities the program can provide.

“I want to be able to set up my life here in Australia, this program is allowing me to do this,” she said.

“I am a person who enjoys physical work, so construction is a perfect chance to use these talents.

“This program is giving me my confidence back and will allow me to be financially independent which is a big step forward in life.

“I am looking forward to working hard and making a life that I deserve.”

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Chair, Ross Griffiths, said this partnership could make a change for generations to come – and help redefine the typical ‘tradie’ stereotype along the way.

“The construction industry is booming, but it continues to be male-dominated – according to the NSW Government, fewer than 13 per cent of the construction industry’s workforce are women,” Mr Griffiths said.

“This program is aiming to help migrant and refugee women enter the industry with confidence, making them financially independent and able to support themselves and their families.

“Specifically, the program is working towards having 50 women aged between 18 and 45 years old obtain a Certificate II in Construction by April 2024. Program participants will then be able to translate their new skills into real-world opportunities, gaining paid job and apprenticeships, and even obtaining further specialisation.

“And by bringing together these communities of refugee women and tradies, who may not have interacted before, the program is also helping to cultivate diversity.”

The Social and Economic Resilience of Young Migrants and Refugee Women Program is supported by project partners:  Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation; Zara’s House; TAFE NSW; Training Services NSW; Collaborative Construction Solutions; Hansen Yuncken; Multiplex Global.

Source: © The University of Newcastle, Australia

Image source: © The University of Newcastle, Australia

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