Construction industry still struggling to attract women into the workforce

The glass ceiling remains an obstacle for women in the construction industry, according to a new report by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

With women making up just 10% of those employed within construction and built environment industries, the Equal Opportunities Commission has criticised the sector as a ‘no-go’ area for women.

The report, written by Sonia Gurjao from the University of Reading, said the skills shortage is a threat to the long-term health of the industry.

“[Construction] is suffering recruitment problems with its traditional source of labour – young men aged 16-19. Efforts are being made to recruit women into the workforce, but with limited success,” the report said.

“In the short term, the industry is filling the skills gap using workers from low-wage economies. What is needed is a skilled workforce that sees its long-term future in the UK construction industry. To meet the challenge of the skills gap, the recruitment of women is no longer simply a nice thing to do; it has become a necessity.”

In summary, the issues are:

  • Attracting more women to the industry by not only focusing on young entrants but also returnees to work following a career break, and those who seek a career change
  • Retention of women in the workforce
  • Understanding the extent of women employed in the whole industry, including the supply chain.

Michael Brown, deputy chief executive of the CIOB, said: “Attracting and retaining more women in the construction sector is a key priority for the UK. In countries such as ours, where skill and labour shortages exist, increasing the number of women in the workforce would go some way to solving the problem.”

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