Morag Evans, CEO of Databuild, says every country is different when it comes to how the construction industry is perceived. South Africa should stand out as being home to a fast-growth industry, rich with prospects and opportunities, she adds.
Construction is inextricably linked to physical infrastructure development, including buildings that serve important purposes like hospitals, schools and police stations.
“If you are in construction, you are part of this… your work has helped to build these important structures and help communities flourish. There is a sense of accomplishment when the fruits of one’s labour is immediately visible, with a healthy reliance on the teamwork dynamic,” says Evans.
The construction industry has traditionally been seen as physically demanding and male-dominated, but this perception is slowly changing.
Says Evans, “As more organisations continue to create awareness and initiatives to educate women on all the potential career opportunities, we are seeing an influx of females in the labour force. Women are aware of various roles to be filled, including procurement, project management, health and safety, surveying and estimating, to name a few.”
Another advantage is that working in this industry is exciting - every day brings with it something different and offers the opportunity to engage in new challenges and responsibilities.
“Construction offers the chance to travel, broaden one’s horizons, meet new people and discover new things. Demand for construction work never diminishes… every economy requires construction on some level, and there are so many ways to enter the industry and broaden growth prospects,” says Evans.
She adds that skills transfer, and on-the-job training are effective pathways into the industry, at all levels. Learnerships, bursaries and other industry initiatives are effective ways to share knowledge, information and develop skills.
Training programmes, offered by the various MBSA regions, allow learners to acquire the technical qualifications and the practical experience required by the market.
The B.U.I.L.D Programme, an initiative implemented by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), encourages all industry stakeholders to support students and emerging contractors coming into the market.
This is done by creating the opportunities on projects for large contractors (Grade 7 upwards) and contributing towards a national build fund established to provide financial support for training and development.
Whilst it is important for construction companies to continue to promote the positive opportunities available in the industry to attract new entrants, Databuild encourages the youth to keep abreast of developments and engage with industry organisations that offer training or funding as a viable entry point into the market.
“There are many ways in which someone can apply their talents in construction and multiple avenues of opportunity to develop new skills and apply tried and tested ones. You will never have enough knowledge and you will always be learning in this industry,” says Evans.