Despite important progress recently, Aggregate Industries’ Contracting Division says a brand new mindset is needed to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce in the construction industry.
Latest figures show approximately 5% of working adults in the UK are currently employed in construction-related jobs but women make up just 20% of that workforce.
What is alarming about this pay gap is that construction continues to face a major skills deficit, with a recent report from Highways UK estimating in order to meet the Government’s £15bn investment into the Strategic Road Network, an additional 40,000 engineering and constructions workers will be needed by 20202.
This has led the Contracting Division of Aggregate to set equality targets in order to achieve a 30% gender balance by 2030.
It believes the industry needs to take on a fresh way of thinking if it is to succeed in bringing more women and young people into operational roles.
Paddy Murphy, Managing Director of Contracting Services at Aggregate Industries, said a diverse workforce is no longer just about addressing gender equality, but building the highly skilled and trained workforce needed to meet the government’s ambitious plans for upgrading the UK’s road infrastructure.
“In order to make a meaningful impact in driving recruitment in what is traditionally a man’s world, the industry must adopt new techniques to better accommodate a diverse range of people,” he said.
“This starts with a root and branch approach, one that looks at changes that must be made to behaviours, working conditions, equipment and recruitment policies.”
Aggregate say something that is often overlooked is that a lot of the equipment and machinery used in the industry, such as rollers and pavers, are old fashioned; featuring manual controls, steep gradients and hard-to-reach entry points that make it inaccessible to some.
Paddy added: “By incorporating measures such as upgrading to more captivating automated machine controls; folding steps; and all-round vision into all equipment and machinery going forward, is just one of the ways to ensure our working environment is inclusive.
“Meanwhile, to make it easier to spot and nurture talent other policies to consider are increasing the visibility of operational roles with a variety of audiences and removing gender bias in recruitment.
“We are attending schools and colleges and encourage a 50/50 split of male and female candidates during the interview stages when recruiting for new operational-related roles.
“After all, with studies showing firms with a diverse workforce boast better business performance3, it is now more important than ever to address diversity and inclusion if we are to retain our position as a world-class industry that leads the way in innovation.”
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