This means two things:
1. Gender imbalance is bad for business
2. There are wasted recruitment opportunities
Is there gender imbalance? – As only 14% of the construction sector workforce are female, and the proportion working on site is a small 2%, statistics would suggest the answer is YES. Organisations such as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have been working hard to close this gender gap.
In my opinion…
Gender imbalance is bad for business because it isn’t representative of the projects our company(s) are involved with. Many of our projects include working on Universities, Schools, Apartment blocks, Hotels etc. all of which are diverse establishments. Therefore, I feel that having a diverse workforce represents the communities in which we serve. As a former University lecturer, I feel passionate about education and apprenticeships. Apprenticeships can help us tackle skill shortages in our business, as they can be tailored to specific job roles, making them flexible to the needs of the business. Apprentices can also help to fill skill gaps, by developing the specialist skills we require.
Our Level 3 Business Administration apprentice, when asked what attracted her to apply for an apprenticeship within our company, she said
“the job role had aspects that I had experience in previously that I enjoyed, such as speaking to customers, placing and chasing orders and working as part of a team. What I love most about working in the construction industry is that there’s always a new challenge and nothing is ever the same. It stops the job from becoming repetitive and keeps it interesting. I really enjoy being able to see the raw products being delivered to our warehouse; I’m involved in the ordering of these products, they are then manufactured into our specialised soundproofing or acoustic products. I then arrange for these products to be delivered to the site for our installers to install. I’m involved with the whole process from start to finish. In terms of the future, I want to be involved in sales within the construction industry and hopefully will have gained enough experience and knowledge that I am able to have my own team and assist them with daily tasks, such as chasing quotes and offering technical advice and support”.
Sophie has been a credit to herself and the business(s). She has covered a variety of roles and has been an integral part of implementing the company(s) new CRM system; even training her peers! Sophie is now coming to the end of her apprenticeship and we have offered her the position of Business Development within our underfloor heating company – Warmis Ltd. She is really enthusiastic and is looking forward to interacting with new customers, developing new relationships and offering technical advice and support.
Who joined us as on a Level 2 Business Administrative Apprenticeship nearly 12 months ago. Chloe has grown and with this, we have been able to assign her more roles and responsibilities – all of which she prioritises and executes with ease. When asked what she enjoyed most about working in the construction industry, she replied
“Connecting with customers on a daily basis and giving them the best service, I can. I love the fact that every day is a new day and nothing is ever the same. It keeps me on my toes! I really enjoy working as a team as together we can find the solutions that work best for each client”.
In 5-10 years’ time, Chloe sees herself firmly staying put within the construction industry. She wants to learn the skills of estimating and is looking forward to her time assisting the Commercial Manager building quotations for customers, as well as to obtain the skills and knowledge required to aid the business development team in their quest to constantly seek new ways to attract Acoustic & Soundproofing aspects of potential projects.
Our ethos is quite simple…
We aim to not only have a dedicated workforce but an experienced, educated one too! Currently, we have 5 apprentices across a variety of roles both on-site and office-based and all are a valued, respected member of the team. We provide them with the opportunity to try out different aspects and roles within the business(s), allowing them to assess where they feel their skills are best suited. This allows the apprentice to really understand and get to grips with how each department works cohesively in order to ‘get the job done in the most efficient yet effective way’ as well as to allow them to see their own personal growth and expanding knowledge base.
One of the most important ways of reducing the gender imbalance in construction should begin at education level. Earlier this year, recruitment firm Ranstad published a ‘Women in Construction’ report which highlighted that inappropriate male comments, missed promotion opportunities and an unconscious bias influenced by the wrongly perceived culture of the workplace, all deterred women from entering into a construction-related career pathway.
Independent not-for-profit organisations such as ‘Women Into Construction’ are also providing bespoke training and support to women wishing to work in the construction industry. They are doing so by assisting contractors to recruit driven, trained women into the sector. The consequence of efforts such as this is clear – a larger pool of talent drives forward UK productivity by reducing the skills gap, and in the wake of Brexit, this is more important than ever!