Women leading the charge to reignite the construction sector

Closing the gender gap in the South African construction sector remains a massive task.  According to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) statistics, there are 437 women-owned contractors in grades 7 to 9, which is only 1% of the total 40 065 women-owned contractors, the vast majority of whom are still in grade 1. Although great strides have been made, gender representation is still below the 50% mark for positions that come with a great deal of influence.

The engineering and construction sectors where the ratio of men to women is 16% versus 6%, more work remains to be done for women to progress up within the construction industry ladder. The need to transform various aspects of the construction sector is paramount, particularly if it is to remain economically viable in a country whose economy is strained. In the past two years, massive job cuts, liquidations and gender discrimination within the sector have been a cause for concern with little to no change or solutions proposed to help stabilise this important sector.

The National Construction Incubator (NCI), which was formerly known as The SEDA Construction Incubator (SCI) is actively working towards reforms in the construction sector. With their targets for contractors exceeding 12%, this has contributed 3% above the target for jobs created in the 1st and 2nd quarter and an additional 139 temporal jobs created. A clearer look:

  2018/2019 2018/2019 2017/2018
Indicator Annual Target Achieved Total Achieved Total
Number of Contractors Supported 270 307 269  
Number of jobs Created 930 1078   1122
Turnover Generated by NCI Clients R230 mil R301.7 mil R299.5 mil  
Percentage of women owned companies supported 35% 31% 34%
Percentage of youth owned clients supported 40% 35% 28%
Percentage Black owned clients 80% 100% 100%  

The NCI is also addressing a number of topical issues within the industry:

  • Women empowerment: The NCI recently marked its own milestone on the road to an inclusive and equal construction industry, achieving an enviable 83% female component of Senior Management. Ms Patt Mazibuko is the new CEO, with Dr Joy Ndlovu chairing the board. Dr Ndlovu’s areas of strength lie in her advocacy of entrepreneurship, leadership and management.
  • Development and mentorship: StatsSA reported as many as 30 000 job cuts in the construction sector in 2019. This is incredibly disheartening and calls for development of emerging contractors and mentorships to help remedy the situation by reimagining the models in place within the industry. Through the infusion of both technical and business administration skills to drive the technologies required for optimal operational and management performance, the industry can thrive again.
  •  Job creation: Giving support to contractors through funding, mentorship and interpersonal development has been at the heart of the work that the NCI does and has proven to be efficient, testament to that, they have managed to create 139 temporal jobs and managed to exceed their job creation target by 3%. These growth points are a massive win within the industry as they are geared towards strengthening the sector.

With the strides that the new NCI is making in sustaining the industry through various changes aimed at growth, the organisation is in the forefront of creating opportunities to improve the sector through its strategic positioning. Ultimately, the sector will continue to develop and contribute to the economy of the country by implementing innovative and just means in redressing the stifling elements that have long crippled the construction industry.