Female apprentices driving sustainability

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Having female apprentices in construction is a sustainable way for the industry to continue to grow. Fox Modular’s focus is sustainability, so it’s no surprise that they’re embracing a thoroughly modern approach to building the future.

These days women working in construction is not just encouraged, it can be the norm and businesses such as Fox Modular are leading the change with 80 percent of their apprentice workforce being female.

female apprentices

Fox Modular General Manager and Director, Jess Berry, said when she first started in the industry she was surprised by just how flexible it was, and how welcomed she felt in a historically male-dominated role.

“When I started in the industry about 10 years ago, it was a very different landscape for women,” Jess said.

“I worked with BGC as their first female construction supervisor, and was surprised just how flexible that role could be as I got to choose when to meet with trades and choose to work with the trades which were supportive of working with a ‘green’ female supervisor’

“I think that because it’s quite male-dominated a lot of women don’t realise that actually, this kind of role could be perfect for them because you can choose your meeting times and that means you can often drop the kids off at school too. There’s a lot of flexibility.

“Employing female apprentices is just the norm for us, we actively wanted to give female apprentices a go, and now we’re really glad that we’re a place that offers that support and flexibility for women and working mums.”

Stacie - First year apprentice at Fox Modular

Fox builds modular homes, granny flats and small custom builds. They make it their business to be sustainable and Jess said the proof of that is in the waste that they don’t create on site.

“Working in modular means there’s a lot less waste and over ordering than on traditional building sites, which is so much better for the environment,” she said.

“On a traditional building site, there would be about four skip bins full to the brim.

“On a Fox Modular site we use half a bin per build. The waste is minimal and we’re really proud of that.

“I think Modular homes have changed completely from the offering they used to be too, no longer are these homes that are built for a certain time frame, they’re forever homes and creative space solutions that can change people’s lives for the better. “

Most of Fox’s female apprentices are mature age and Jess said that gives them an extra edge in both maturity and their eye for detail on projects.

“Our apprentices come from a range of different backgrounds, we have a former flight attendant and a former environmental scientist and it’s great to have that diversity in the team,” Jess added.

“Sometimes there can still be that resistance in the market to employing female trades and often that’s because of physicality, but to be honest, the way we work at Fox is very collaborative and we all understand and embrace each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“And because we build end-to-end in one location, all of the trades get to see the bigger picture and the finished product, so as well as working together collaboratively, they all benefit from each other’s experience.

“We’re a modern workforce and I think that female apprentices bring a lot to a business, they’re well organised, they keep things neat and they look at things from a different perspective to men. That’s why having teams with a good mix of apprentices works so well.

“I’d encourage women to think outside the box, don’t be afraid to take that side step in your career to help drive it forward in a new direction. The skills you already have are probably really transferable, and construction is output based, so it’s tangible. It’s a rewarding career pathway and I’m glad every day that I took the plunge.”

Daisy - First year apprentice at Fox Modular

Fox Modular’s Building Manager Brad Hill said he loves the mix of apprentices at Fox and believes having female apprentices brings a lot of diversity in thinking to the table.

“I think it’s a positive thing for us as a business, I’ve got two female apprentices, and they work really hard, they have a great eye for detail, they’re neat and tidy and they bring a whole different perspective to a job,” Brad said.

“The construction industry now has more female apprentices than ever before and that’s a real positive. Carpentry is great trade to get into.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes in my time as a tradie. Going back 10-15 years there just weren’t as many women, but I think it’s brilliant, they’ve grown in numbers and proved themselves in what was traditionally a male dominated field.

“To be honest I think these days it’s less about the gender of an apprentice and more about the commitment they put in and how good they are at the job. Female tradies have never been more supported in the industry, and I can proudly say some of my female apprentices are absolute guns.

“Fox is a great workplace for apprentices to learn, because they really do get to see the bigger picture from end to end and learn it all along the way.”

Fox is proud to be a female apprentice employer of choice, and Jess said she believes it makes sense for the construction industry to be gender inclusive going forward.

“At Fox we work hard to put the right person into the right job, and that’s why we have a real gender mix throughout our entire business, and I think that’s really important for all construction companies,” she said.

“In construction there are things that women are better at and things than men are better at, and embracing that idea really does mean you get the best out of your teams, create the best product and everyone learns along the way.

“There’s a bright future ahead for women in construction.”

Don’t forget Construction Training Fund (CTF) offers an Employer Wage Grant program that provides funding support to ensure the construction industry is skilled and sustainable, with additional funding available for employers of female apprentices and trainees.

To find out more about Fox visit: foxmodular.com.au or visit the Fox’s Den display village at 13a Boom Street, Gnangara.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Construction Training Fund acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land throughout Western Australia and pay our respect to the Elders both past and present. We thank them for their ongoing custodianship of the lands and waters, and celebrate their rich culture of art, song, dance, language, and stories.