Over recent years many people have criticised the construction industry for not making enough of an effort to attract women recruits.
In terms of recruitment it is thought that the industry misses out on about 50% of its potential intake – referring of course to the female population. However what puzzles us at employers’ federation Scottish Building is the inordinate amount of time, effort and resources applied to trying to encourage women into the industry. They believe that if, as individuals, women are given the same amount of information and advice about the industry, they will be more than capable of making their own minds up as to whether construction is right for them.
However, the construction sector also needs to change parental attitudes towards the industry. Many parents still harbour reservations about issues such as the physical nature of the work, the social dynamics of working in a male-dominated environment and the availability of career paths on the completion of apprenticeship training. It is all well and good persuading school-age girls that construction is a good career move, but when they return home and Dad or Grandpa wax lyrical about the terrible working conditions in construction (misguided although these often are) we lose another potential recruit.
The money being spent on attracting women into construction could be better spent enhancing training opportunities for all.
Training, as we all know, requires resources and while funding “women in construction” projects may score brownie points with the establishment, it does nothing for us on the ground. Give us access to this funding and let us create more college places, additional grants for employers of apprentices and many other adjustments that will ensure this industry has a future.
Douglas Fergus, general manager, Scottish Building