Frequently Asked Questions

You can find answers to frequently asked questions about the construction industry on this page.

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The construction industry

What is construction?

Construction work is defined in the WHS Regulation as any work carried out in connection with the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting-out, commissioning, renovation, repair, maintenance, and refurbishment, demolition, decommissioning or dismantling of a structure. Structures can include residential houses and apartment blocks, commercial offices, social buildings such as hospitals and schools, entertainment facilities such as stadiums, zoos, and museums, and transport infrastructure such as roads, bridges, tunnels, and airports. The work spans designing and planning, demolition and building, connecting to services, and testing.

The industry is typically divided into three main sectors:  

  1. Residential, including the construction of houses, apartments, townhouses etc.  
  2. Commercial, including the construction of offices, factories, hospitals, schools, shops, entertainment facilities, etc. 
  3. Civil, including the construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, telecommunications and other infrastructure. 

Construction work can be commercial, civil or residential construction and includes the following:  

  • any installation or testing carried out in connection with an activity referred to in the above definition  
  • the removal from the workplace of any product or waste resulting from demolition 
  • the prefabrication or testing of elements for use in construction work, or the disassembly of prefabricated elements forming part of a structure 
  • the installation, testing or maintenance of an essential service in relation to a structure 
  • any work connected with an excavation  
  • any work connected with any preparatory work or site preparation including landscaping as part of site preparation carried out in connection with an activity referred to in the above definition 

Visit Safework's website for more information.

What types of roles are available in construction?

Ongoing demand for infrastructure means the construction industry provides many employment opportunities. While there are some jobs that require formal qualifications there are many that don’t, with on-the-job training often provided at the base entry level. 

Example roles include:  

  • Construction managers 
  • Trade roles including plumbing, electricians, carpentry 
  • Architects 
  • Project director
  • Engineers including civil, mechanical, industrial, electrical 
  • Heavy vehicle operators including truck drivers, crane operators, excavator operators 
  • Surveying  
  • Traffic control   

For more detail on specific occupations, career paths and qualification requirements for roles, head to the Careers NSW website or the Women Building Australia website.

Is working in construction good for the environment?

The NSW Government has adopted a goal of Net Zero emissions across the whole NSW economy by 2050 – and a 50% cut in emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. 

Embodied emissions of construction materials are estimated to be approximately 5% to 10% of Australia’s total emissions. 
The NSW Government is partnering with the construction sector to decarbonise infrastructure delivery, by requiring reporting on projects' emissions and consideration of emissions in Government decision making.

Do I have to do a trade to work in construction? 

No. There are many jobs available that do not require a full qualification.

However, everyone needs at least a construction white card to work on site. Find out more about construction cards on the Service NSW website.

What roles are available to women working in construction?

All jobs in construction are open to women. Construction covers many kinds of roles and skills from cabinet making and plumbing to building and machine operations and electrical services. Typical jobs include electrician, carpenter, civil construction plant operator, welder, builder, plumber, painter and road traffic management.

What skills do I need to work in construction?

Skills vary depending on roles and projects. The majority of learning comes from on-the-job experience, traineeships, apprenticeships and VET courses so you don’t need to worry if you don’t have the requisite skills now. What’s more important is that you’re passionate to learn and want to pursue a career in construction.

Find a range of fee-free courses on the TAFE NSW website.

What types of projects can I work on? 

A career in construction will give you the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects, from residential dwellings, skyscraper office blocks, and social infrastructure projects like hospitals, roads and schools. You may be required to travel for your job, letting you see parts of the country and possibly the world you haven’t seen before. 

Are there networks of women working in construction I can join? 

Yes, there are networks of passionate women working in construction you can join! Joining a community is a good way to network and learn more about the industry. Below are links to networks you can join today.

Working conditions

Do I need to work weekends? Is there flexibility?

In building and construction, the hours and days of work will vary. 

An employee’s ordinary hours of work will depend on their type of employment, with different ordinary hours for full-time, casual, and part-time employees. An employee’s ordinary hours will usually be stated in the ‘hours of work’ clause of their industrial instrument. 

Except for shift workers, the ordinary hours of work for the most building and construction workers will specify: 

  • total hours per week (e.g. 38 or 36 hours per week) 
  • days worked each week (e.g. Monday to Friday inclusive) 
  • times worked in each day (e.g. between 7am and 3pm). 
  • For instance, a worker employed under an award may be required to work 38 hours per week, Monday to Friday, from 7.00am to 3.00pm. 

Sometimes the ordinary hours of work may be changed: 

  • where early starts are required 
  • for part-time workers 
  • where employees are working in challenging environments such as underground. 

Employees working more than 38 ordinary hours per week may be entitled to a rostered day off (RDO). 

In the Australian construction industry, the practice of working on Saturday at higher pay rates, known as overtime, is deeply rooted and remains in place even though workers are now able to earn the same overtime rate after hours Monday to Friday. 

A number of NSW Government projects are now trialling a 5 day work week as well as other measures to improve working conditions on construction sites under the draft Construction Industry Culture Standard. 

Is working in construction safe? 

Everyone involved in construction work has health and safety duties when carrying out the work. The Principal Contractor has the primary duty under the WHS Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.  

The SafeWork NSW Construction Code provides guidance on how to manage the risks associated with construction work in the workplace using the following systematic process:  

  • Identify hazards—find out what could cause harm.  
  • Assess risks, if necessary—understand the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening. This step may not be necessary if you are dealing with a known risk with known controls.  
  • Control risks—implement the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable in the circumstances in accordance with the hierarchy of control measures, and ensure they remain effective over time.  
  • Review control measures to ensure they are working as planned.


What is a white card?

A white card is evidence that you have completed a General Construction Induction course/white card course. This course is mandatory for anyone who works, or wants to work, in the construction industry.

Find out more about white cards and how to obtain one on the Safework website.

Can I work in construction without a white card? 

No. A white card is required for anyone who wants to carry out construction work. These include site managers, supervisors, surveyors, labourers and tradespeople.

Find out more about white cards and how to obtain one on the Safework website.

What additional qualifications do I need to work in the construction industry? 

Safety is the highest priority and every person working in the construction industry must obtain a white card.  You can find out how to obtain a white card on the Safework website.

Depending on the trade you are interested in, you may be required to have additional tickets. Find out more about what tickets you need on the Advanced Group Services website.

What are the physical requirements of working in construction? 

The physicality varies and depends on the role and the projects you work on. The belief that construction is too physically demanding for women is outdated and acts as a deterrent for women to consider a career in construction.  

Looking across various industries, there has been a large uptake of women in traditionally male dominated jobs, from the armed forces, police and fire fighters. Furthermore, there are tools and assistive technologies commonly used across construction that mean women are just as capable of undertaking roles as men.

Refer to the Women’s Stories page to learn more about the physical requirements of the job.  

Apprenticeships and traineeships

What is difference between apprenticeship and traineeship?

Apprenticeships and traineeships both combine formal study with on-the-job training where you get paid while you learn. An apprenticeship leads to a nationally recognised qualification in a trade vocation while a Traineeship leads to a non-trade qualification.

Find out more information about apprenticeships and traineeships.

Do I have to complete an apprenticeship to start a trade? 

Yes. You will need to complete your training as an apprentice to graduate as a qualified tradesperson. There’s never been a better time to start an apprenticeship in NSW. The Commonwealth government is currently offering fee free apprenticeships.

Find out more on the NSW Department of Education website.

I’m in high school. Are there school programs available to me to start training for my career in construction? 

Yes. There are school delivered vocational education and training (VET) courses for year 9-12 students. Find out how you can get a head start on your apprenticeship before you leave school with a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship! Find more information about school based apprenticeships and traineeships.

The NSW government also offers Year 12 students the opportunity to develop their professional skills in the infrastructure industry.

Find out more on the NSW Department of Education website.

What experience do I need for an apprentice or a traineeship? 

No prior experience is required. We are after people who have finished school and are keen to start a career. 

Do I need to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects to work in construction? 

No, you don’t need to have studied STEM subjects at school or TAFE to have a career in construction. STEM subjects can be beneficial, but they are not mandatory.  

Infrastructure Traineeships

How does an Infrastructure Traineeship work? 

The NSW Government Infrastructure Traineeships are office-based. If you are successful, you will spend time at a NSW Government agency and private sector industry employers, rotating every 8 months. TAFE NSW classes will be a combination of Classroom Based and Connected Learning, and you will be given 1-2 days during the week to study to complete a Cert IV courses and/or attend classes. 

How does the Infrastructure Traineeship include women?

The Infrastructure Traineeship far exceeds existing diversity levels within the sector and provides great opportunities for women. Across all roles in the construction industry, including office-based roles, women comprise only of 10.3% of the workforce.  The Traineeship is working towards a target for inclusion of 50% women, which supports other NSW Government objectives including the Ten point commitment to the construction sector and priorities of the NSW Women's Strategy related to economic opportunity and advancement of women. 

Do I attend classes to study while participating in an Infrastructure Traineeship? 

You will be given 1-2 days during the week to study and complete your online TAFE course to complete your Cert IV courses. You will do this during the week, within the workplace you are placed. 

What traineeships are on offer as part of the Infrastructure Traineeship? 
  • Cert IV in Business (BSB40120)
  • Cert IV in Project Management Practice (BSB40920)
  • Cert IV in Procurement and Contracting (PSP40616)

Industry Innovation Program

What is the Industry Innovation Program?

The Industry Innovation Program is a key feature of the NSW Government’s Women in Construction strategy by which the NSW Government will support a range of innovative industry led initiatives.

The $10 million Industry Innovation Program is one measure that Infrastructure NSW has created to achieve this goal. 

The Industry Innovation Program provides grant funding for eligible NSW construction organisations to support innovative pilot initiatives that will encourage female participation in the construction industry throughout the supply chain by:

  • Creating inclusive workplace cultures, including by improving employee wellbeing and supporting flexible working arrangements;
  • Increasing the number of women entering and staying in the industry; and 
  • Supporting female leadership and female employees.
How much funding is available under the Industry Innovation Program?

The Program will allocate up to $10 million in funding through 2025.
The funding available for this first round (year 1) of the Program is up to $5 million. The NSW Government reserves the right to roll any remaining funding from this round into future rounds of the IIP.

Successful applicants in the first round will be awarded grant amounts from $30,000 up to a maximum of $300,000.

As the IIP is being undertaken over two years, recipients of funding under this program will be limited to a maximum of $300,000 in Year 1 of the Program. The purpose of this is to maximise the benefit and diversity of the IIP across the industry, and to support a range of pilot projects and different parts of the construction sector supply chain.

Who is eligible to submit an application for the Industry Innovation Program?

Eligible applicants must: 

  • Be a NSW registered construction business, trade union or construction industry association in any ABS recognised construction sector
  • Be a legal entity with a valid ABN or ACN
  • Provide construction services in NSW or be an industry or trade union representing members in NSW.
  • Demonstrate current female employment or membership if a trade union or industry association in non-traditional occupations as employees or members (refer to Definitions section)
  • Demonstrate alignment to one or more of the following IIP outcomes that will encourage female participation and retention in construction industry:
    • Creating inclusive workplace cultures, including by improving employee wellbeing and supporting flexible working arrangements;
    • Increasing the number of women entering and staying in the industry; or 
    • Supporting female leadership and female employees.
  • Demonstrate the potential for scalability and sustainability of the proposed model post-funding
  • Be financially viable and have the capacity to deliver proposed services for the term of grant funding

Refer to the Industry Innovation program guidelines (PDF 396.46KB) for full eligibility details.

What evidence is required to support eligibility criteria of a NSW registered construction business?

Evidence is required regarding eligibility to be submitted as part of Question 3 in the SmartyGrants Application Form. The required evidence is either registration from the NSW Department of Fair Trading OR registration with ASIC. The evidence is to be provided in addition to the required Eligibility Criteria as outlined in the Guidelines and Application Form (for example, such as providing construction services in NSW, or being an industry association or trade union representing members in NSW).

What is a non-traditional occupation?

Women employed in both non-trade and trade occupations/roles where women represent less than 25% of the occupational workforce and where most of their time is spent on site or site-related activities, including off-site construction activities contributing to the project. 

For example, drafting, environmental or construction management, or professional occupations such as civil engineers. Includes women undertaking and employed in non-traditional traineeships and apprenticeships. 

Read more about the occupations where women represent less than 25% of workers. 

What are some examples of eligible projects that may be considered under the Program?

The Program is seeking to support innovative pilot ideas to meet the Program objectives. The below list is provides example of eligible projects, however, this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Provision of carers support initiatives such as childcare, disability care, elderly care and leave initiatives to promote workplace flexibility
  • A project officer to work broadly across different construction projects to remove barriers to entry for women in construction, improve culture and increase retention on construction sites
  • Review of a company’s work culture and subsequent strategic planning, implementation and monitoring evaluation for improving diversity and inclusivity in workplace culture
  • Gender bias training / upskilling for supervisors and employees (excluding accredited training which may be available through Training Services NSW Smart and Skilled grants program)
  • Sponsorship of female employee mentorship programs, events and formal career planning or upskilling for specifically non-trade roles (i.e professional, technical and managerial roles). 
  • Early education in schools to change gender stereotypes of the construction industry and campaigns targeted at older students, teachers and career advisers, parents and employers.
What is considered “a NSW registered construction business, trade union or construction industry association"?

The Australian government includes a broad definition of construction industry on the Australian government website.

The construction industry includes: 

  • trades people providing services direct to consumers
  • trades people providing services to other building and construction businesses and government
  • businesses providing small and large construction services to individuals and government
  • businesses engaged in large construction projects
  • businesses engaged in infrastructure project.

The type of work carried out by construction businesses includes:

  • residential and non-residential construction
  • renovations and extensions
  • building structure services
  • installation services
  • heavy and civil engineering
  • land development
  • site preparation.

The business must be registered with a valid ABN or ACN and provide construction services in NSW or be an industry association or trade union representing members in NSW. For example, this would include businesses providing trades services such as plumbing or electricians, as well as industry associations representing members in trades or other construction related services. This would also include businesses providing services to the construction industry such as consulting services.

What type of costs are eligible under the Industry Innovation Program?

Eligible grant costs include:

  • costs for work directly related to the delivery of eligible, requested funding activities
  • contingency costs directly related to the requested funding activities capped at no more than 20 per cent of the total value of the requested funding amount
  • costs for additional resources which are required to be engaged for the delivery of the proposed program, but not including costs for existing employees 
Who is responsible for administering the Industry Innovation Program?

Infrastructure NSW has developed the Industry Innovation Program in partnership with the Department of Education. The Department of Education will administer the Program on behalf of Infrastructure NSW.

How will project be assessed under the Industry Innovation Program?

All applications will be assessed for eligibility, project alignment and merit against the Assessment Criteria outlined in the Industry Innovation Program Guidelines (PDF 396.46KB)

Applications will be assessed by an Assessment Panel consisting of representatives from the Department of Education, Infrastructure NSW, the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Treasury NSW.

How will the Program ensure fairness amongst applicants?

The Industry Innovation Program will be subject to strict governance and probity with a fair and transparent assessment process in line with the Industry Innovation Program Probity Plan. The Program will be overseen by an independent Probity Advisor. 

All funding decisions will be made in accordance with the Industry Innovation Program Guidelines 

The Industry Innovation Program was developed in accordance with the Department of Premier and Cabinet Grants Administration Guide (2022).

When will I be notified of the outcome of my application?

All applicants will be notified of the outcomes of their assessment (successful or unsuccessful) in writing from 2023. Successful projects will be announced from May 2023.

Where do I get information, help or advice on my application?

Industry Innovation Program Team can provide information and SmartyGrants IT support to applicants in writing via email at 

Refer to the Industry Innovation Program Guidelines (PDF 396.46KB) for full Program details. 

The Industry Innovation Program Team cannot provide advice or assistance in writing or conduct activities in support of the application in accordance with probity.

What do I do if I have a complaint?

For any concerns about your organisation’s application, or if you would like the opportunity for feedback regarding your organisation’s application, please write to within 30 days of notification of your application outcome.

If you do not agree with the way Infrastructure NSW / Department of Education handled the issue, you may wish to contact the NSW Ombudsman.

How will my project be evaluated?

Successful applications will participate in regular reporting, monitoring and evaluation during the delivery and at the completion of the project. This including completing surveys and providing evidence of how projects resulted in measurable benefits consistent with the objectives of the IIP. This will be required to determine the extent to which the funded projects have contributed to the objectives of IIP.

When do applications close for the Industry Innovation Program?

Applications close at 2:00pm on Wednesday 15 March 2023.  

What are “in kind” contributions? 

An in-kind contribution is a contribution of a good or a service other than money. Examples include; voluntary labour (for example, painting work), donated goods (for example, kitchen equipment), donated services (for example, professional advice from an architect).

What is a partnership?

Two or more organisations may wish to join together to submit a joint project/proposal to the Industry Innovation program. If this occurs, one organisation must be nominated as the lead with which the NSW Government will contract directly. All organisations that form the partnership must be ‘eligible’ organisations under the Program Guidelines, for example, a partnership cannot include a NSW Government agency as this is not an eligible organisation per the Program Guidelines.

If applicants are applying as part of a partnership, are all partners required to be eligible applicants? 

All partners must be eligible, and a lead applicant must be identified.

Can our organisation submit more than one application? 

Applicants are able to submit more than one application for different projects, however the grant funding cap of $300,000 applies to the total of all submitted projects per organisation for this grant funding round.

Alice's Story

Alice works as a Graduate Site Engineer at the Randwick Campus Redevelopment. She started her career in the construction industry by studying Civil Engineering and Commerce at the University of New South Wales. We asked Alice questions about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.

Jessica's Story

Jessica works as a Project Engineer at the Randwick Campus Redevelopment. She started her career in the construction industry by studying Civil Engineering with Honours at the University of Wollongong. We asked Jessica questions about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.


Choosing a career in construction opens you up to a world of opportunity.

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