New report urges employers and education providers to join forces to attract a more diverse workforce

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn with City Building apprentices

A new Scottish Government report has called on employers and education providers to work together to highlight the opportunities available in construction and help address the industry’s gender imbalance.

The report has also recommended that best practice training should be made available to SMEs in the construction sector to help improve recruitment processes and make them fairer.

The measures were identified in a report carried out to analyse the lack of diversity in construction. Across the UK, only around 11% of the construction workforce is female with only 2% of female workers employed in craft trade roles.

The research was undertaken by GenAnalytics and funded by the Workplace Equality Fund. It focused on Glasgow construction firm City Building’s supply chain of around 140 SMEs, following previous work to benchmark City Building’s diversity performance.

The six-month project included a series of workshops held with SMEs, which established that employers believe construction needs to improve its image. They suggested that better relationships with schools and colleges could help to promote construction as a positive career choice.

In their report, GenAnalytics made recommendations that could be implemented in the public sector to support SMEs in construction to achieve greater diversity and inclusion. These include the importance of schools, colleges and universities working with employers to “standardise engagement” and educate young people about opportunities. A toolkit was also created to allow SMEs to develop a diversity and inclusion strategy.

Jane Gotts, director of GenAnalytics said, “City Building does a huge amount of work to support an inclusive and diverse workforce, but realised that its suppliers needed support to attract a wider range of employees. What our research shows is that there are challenges around achieving this, but there is a willingness amongst SMEs to address the issues. We commend City Building for its leadership and hope this vital work can be replicated across other sectors.”

Councillor Allan Casey, chair of City Building added, “We are very proud of our supply chain for stepping up and participating in this important research. As a business, supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce is at the forefront of our operations and we are keen to do all we can to assist our suppliers to achieve greater equality amongst their own workforces.”

Launching the report at City Building’s Queenslie Training Centre, Jamie Hepburn, Employability Minister, said, “Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce is a key priority in driving economic growth. That is why I welcome the GenAnalytics Construction report, funded by the Scottish Government’s Workplace Equality Fund into building greater diversity and inclusion in the construction sector. The Scottish Government is also committed to promoting a flexible, family-friendly working culture which aligns business success with a balanced work and family life.

“I’m pleased to announce that the Scottish Government will be providing continued support to Family Friendly Working Scotland with £159,000 of funding, in line with the aims of our forthcoming Gender Pay Gap Action Plan to promote fair work principles and the wider economic benefits these bring.”