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Contractors clock hike in female recruitment

Construction companies in the UAE have seen a growth in the take-up of women into middle-management roles over the last few years.

In 2006, 39% of the UAE workforce were women, with an increased number in construction.
In 2006, 39% of the UAE workforce were women, with an increased number in construction.

Construction companies in the UAE have seen a growth in the take-up of women into middle-management roles over the last few years.

According to Bishoy Azmy, deputy general manager of contractor ASGC, the company now employs 20 women, compared to none two years ago.

The roles cover engineering, design and architecture as well as HR, accounting and administrative work.

"It's not our current policy to actively attempt to increase the percentage of women in our workforce, but we are taking a broader outlook on employing women," said Azmy. "If we receive a woman's CV and think she'd be suitable for the job, then we will consider the application, whereas two or three years ago we may have said she wasn't suitable to work in a contracting company - nowadays, that argument is no longer valid."

According to a report by the World Bank, female participation rates in all sectors of the UAE economy is on the rise. In 2006, 39% of the workforce in the UAE were women, mainly made up of expatriates.

"I can see more women getting involved in the construction sector for many reasons," added Azmy.

"I think the leadership of Dubai is currently encouraging women's involvement in all aspects of business life. Secondly, due to the skills shortage, women represent around 50% of the population, so instead of limiting your search, you double your potential candidates."

Dutco Balfour Beatty Group has also seen an increase in the number of women it recruits, as well as interest among women to work in construction.

"I've recruited a number of UAE ladies in the last few months," said Rania Hanna, HR officer, Dutco Balfour Beatty Group.

"These have been for roles in document control, quality management systems and human resources. We do get CVs from female engineers - but mostly architectural and design engineers. As the market grows we're going to have more vacancies for both women and men."

The increase in the number of women working in construction is seen as essential for plugging the current skills shortage, which is placing immense pressure on companies across all sectors of the industry.

"It's also a matter of the region catching up with the rest of the world in terms of being open-minded enough to accept women into the workplace," said Anton du Plooy, HR & administration manager, Al Jaber Energy Services.

Al Jaber Energy Services employs around 100 women in the UAE and Qatar.

"We think they are very capable and there's no reason why they shouldn't be working in our industry," added du Plooy.

"At this point they predominantly work in administrative and HR roles, purely because of the dynamics of the industry. I may have a very good planning engineer who's a woman, but equally I need to be able to move my planning engineers between support offices and sites - and on sites we don't have facilities to cater for women."

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