Hint: Focus on supporting and empowering everyone, at all career levels
Having a diverse workforce not only fosters inclusion, respect, and openness – it also increases the ability to find the right solutions for projects. A workforce such as this encourages a variety of working styles, personalities and approaches which can be very enticing to a forward thinking business.
That said, within the Built Environment industry there is still a way to go to encourage diversity. According to Construction Manager Magazine, for instance, only 10 per cent of the construction industry is female – and only two per cent are employed in manual trades. At this year’s Construction Manager of the Year awards, not one applicant was a female.
The Built Environment has seen a range of efforts to widen participation get underway, and with a severe skills shortage apparent there should be a wealth of opportunities available to get involved; the expectation is that a younger generation of professionals is soon to be on the rise. But why did the awards attract so little female applicants, if the industry is beginning to grow?
The issue of diversity within the Built Environment right now is that most of these people are at the start of their careers. Whilst there has been great progress, it’ll take a long time for this to start having an impact. What needs to happen is for the industry to provide accessible learning opportunities to empower, support and qualify people at all levels.
For those concerned about the time or costs associated with training, apprenticeships and online learning courses allow all applicants to achieve the academic and vocational education required to take the next step in their career – all whilst earning. Universities and apprenticeships providers are widening their scope each year and opening up more and more varied options to follow career paths, outside of attending an institution every day, offering more flexibility to an array of both women and men.
According to the Construction Industry Council, there’s now a notable increase in females within the 25 and under age category, whilst Randstad reports that women are expected to make up a quarter of the UK’s construction workforce by 2020. The industry is gradually changing, but it needs support in order to continue.
It’s our responsibility to support and encourage this growth, and make sure that everyone who wants to be part of the Built Environment feels they can be.
About the author
Ashley Wheaton is Principal at the University College of Estate Management