The construction industry would need to recruit 400,000 people a year to meet the country’s needs up to 2021, according to a report by consultant Arcadis. The skill shortages are a combined result of falling migration, rising demand, many over-50s leaving the workforce and fewer apprentices. Despite the lack of available data, it is estimated that women account for around 12.8 per cent of the industry’s workforce; the gender pay gap between men and women working in construction stands at 45.4 per cent, with women paid an average hourly rate of £8.04, compared with £14.74 for men, according to the ONS. While the small percentage of women working in construction reflects poorly on the industry, it’s a far greater concern when considering the demand.
What can we do?
1. Close the Pay Gap
Almost a third of women working in construction fear sexism will hold them back from the industry’s top jobs, new research has found. Around 40 percent of male workers said they thought men were better suited to construction. But the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which carried out the research, said the findings also revealed optimism that the industry’s gender pay cap could soon be lower than the national average. Nearly half of the 1,000-people surveyed thought the gap in salaries would be below 15% by 2018. Ten years ago, specialist safety equipment would come in men’s or unisex sizes, potentially making women feel out of place but we have since worked to develop women’s sizes and even a dedicated safety shoe for women.
2. Retain your staff
Although still in the minority, the number of women being directly employed in construction appears to be on the rise. The industry saw a 20-year high in the number of women it employed in 2015, but retaining these individuals appears to be the problem. “The most significant reasons why you haven’t got enough women in the senior side of the industry is the barriers they face re-entering the workplace after having children.” Bridget Bartlett (CIOB), Chairman at Advisory committee for Construction and Built Environment Education. Some of the UK’s biggest contractors like Balfour Beatty and Skanska have realised this and are making the necessary changes to encourage re-employment. Skanska’s Return-to-Work programme aims to inject variety and diversity into its business, and helps people who have taken a career break of two or more years get back into work.
3. Let them know!
Not enough women are shown the variety of careers available in construction, we need to be educating children in primary school right through to University and continuing during their professional development, that women can do it too. The Considerate Constructors Schemewhich promotes the image of construction to young girls in schools provided insight into the way the industry thinks following their ‘Spotlight on…women in construction”, revealing that we are becoming more comfortable employing more women into the built environment, but we now need to play catch up on ensuring there are relevant female role models in the respecting fields to encourage the leap into the industry. “Young people tend to know what a builder and an architect is but not what’s in between.”
GKR London Property Recruitment are working closely with several house-builders supporting them to develop diverse teams and close the gender pay gap. Following the recent news of Carillion’s liquidation, we are aware there will be many individuals concerned for their job security however the government’s “first priority” is to ensure that the public services that were delivered by Carillion continue to operate. If you are looking to expand your team or seek a fresh challenge within the built environment, get in touch with our Commercial & Technical team today.