Changing construction’s culture

Construction needs to do more to encourage diversity says a leading industry group – to come in line with modern Britain and also to tackle skills shortages

An inclusive and joined-up report with constructive recommendations to increase diversity in the built environment has been published in response to the Construction Leadership Council’s Industry Skills Plan for the UK Construction Sector 2021 - 2025.

A Collective Response to the Construction Leadership Council’s Skills Plan: How we can together increase equality of opportunity across a fragmented built environment careers landscape has been facilitated by Building People CIC, a social enterprise that is creating connections across the built environment to address the industry challenges of skills, diversity and social impact.

Over 20 organisations came together to respond to the Skills Plan and to request that the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) broadens its scope to engage with and support the many groups that provide built environment careers support to diverse audiences, such as BAME people, ex-military personnel, young people, women, LGBTQ+ people, refugee professionals and ex-offenders.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Utilising and maximising the social value drivers that are pushing employers to change their equality, diversity and inclusion behaviours.
  • Enabling a deeper level of equality, diversity and inclusion support.
  • Broadening the focus to include older candidates not coming through bootcamps, schools, Further and Higher Education routes.
  • Offering SME support to identify the skills and competences required.
  • Increasing the targets and aiming for “industrial scale” change that is aligned with wider government strategy and more.

Signatories to the collective response include: BuildForce, Building Equality, Building Heroes, Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors, Chartered Surveyors Training Trust, Constructing Excellence, DiverseCity Surveyors, MOBIE, Real Estate Balance, Real Estate Women, Register of Tradeswomen, University College of Estate Management and Women in BIM.

Rebecca Lovelace, Founder and Chief Dot-joiner of Building People, said: “For the top-down Skills Plan to truly deliver it will need bottom-up support and this must include the voices and activities of the many stakeholders that are passionately enabling change across diverse audiences and across the built environment.

“The Building People network recognises that the current landscape is fragmented and disconnected, and that it is by joining forces and collaborating that we can together effect significant transformation and create a step change in social impact for the sector.”

Terry Watts, CEO of the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust, commented: “Working together is essential, but it is a two-way street. Our plea to the CLC is that every effort is also made to avoid duplication, build on what already exists and incorporate the energy, passion and existing activity of members of the sector already delivering on complementary objectives. It is wasteful and frustrating that supportive effort goes unrecognised, unsupported and unreported. Working bottom-up, as well as top-down is so much more effective. Let’s not just say ‘do it together’; let’s build from and harness the energy of everyone in the sector and join the dots to create a momentum for positive change.”

Julian Phatarfod, Building Equality, said: “The construction sector is undergoing many changes at the moment including new methods and materials and new digital innovation challenges.

“A key issue affecting the sector is a skills shortage; not only do we need a different set of skills, but we need to attract a wider and more diverse range of people to our traditional roles. Change in the industry is not just about technology, but also about culture.” t

Sharon Slinger of STEER Support and Mentoring, said: “So many volunteer organisations across the industry have solutions that are having a positive impact on the people they work with. We need a joined up, well-funded approach to support these organisations with their aims.”

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