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Women leading the charge to reignite the construction sector

01 April 2020

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
Number of
Contractors Supported
270 307 269
Number of jobs
930 1078
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
  • 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.

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