To meet our skills needs and build the homes, roads and hospitals Great Britain requires, we must widen the talent pool and stop fishing from half the pond. It’s clear that construction needs the skills, experience and expertise that women can bring to the industry.
We need to make positive steps to make construction more attractive to all.
A really great example of a step in the right direction is Tradeswomen into Maintenance, a CITB-funded project by Mears designed to increase the number of women in construction, specifically the repairs and maintenance sector.
The project has received excellent feedback from community partners and industry alike, winning three awards this year for inspiring change, improving diversity and promoting gender equality.
Tradeswomen into Maintenance offers careers events, Taster Days and work experience to all women but especially those living in social housing, encouraging them into the sector. The project has developed and disseminated information toolkits to encourage girls in school to consider construction careers. These include information about gender equality, the range of construction careers available and routes into the industry.
The initiative has also developed best practice guides and tools for other construction organisations looking to attract girls as they finish school. This includes legal guidance for procurers around equality and diversity, and a directory of employers in each region who have been vetted by the project.
CITB’s new business plan, Vision 2020 highlights outcomes we want to achieve for the industry, one of which is widening the talent pool and attracting more people into construction. To achieve this outcome, we are targeting our funding to projects that promote behaviours like collaboration, community engagement and evaluation. From our perspective Tradeswomen into Maintenance ticks all those boxes.
The project focuses on improving diversity in the construction industry by undertaking research to understand the challenges faced by women and employers in the sector. Using this research, the project works with communities and industry to develop measures to mitigate such challenges.
A crucial aspect of the CITB Funding Programme is that whenever a project finishes, we share its products with other construction firms. Tradeswomen into Maintenance is a sustainable model that can be transferred and embedded by other construction employers. All of the project resources (External link - Opens in a new tab or window) developed are free and available to download so you can use them too for your business.
In the past our industry’s been guilty of not sharing best practice or lessons learned from particular initiatives, good or otherwise. If we’re going to solve all the ills of the construction industry, we need to follow this collaborative approach and work together to encourage diversity.
Dr Rachel Iredale is CITB's Evaluation and Impact Manager.