The Equal Opportunities Commission is to launch an investigation into the construction industry next month after it found that only 1% of construction trainees on the government's modern apprenticeship scheme were women
Commission chair Julie Mellor said that the inquiry team would make a number of recommendations. These are likely to include a call for construction firms to give young women more work experience.

She said: "There's a new emphasis in secondary education on work experience, and that's an opportunity for construction firms to get in there and provide work experience for boys and girls."

Mellor refused to be drawn other recommendations the inquiry team could be expected to make.

She said: "Hopefully a lot of the recommendations will have started being delivered by then. It is very much about getting results, not just producing a report."

The skills shortage isn’t surprising if you’re only recruiting from half the labour market

Julie Mellor, Equal Opportunities Commission

Mellor noted that the investigation would also help the industry to solve its growing skills shortage. She said: "The skills shortage isn't surprising if you are only recruiting from half the labour market."

Mellor said that the Equal Opportunities Commission's survey showed that 1% of trainee plumbers and electricians were women. She has called for the age limit of 25 for the modern apprenticeship scheme to be scrapped because she believes it deters some women with young children. Mellor said: "A modern apprenticeship will help them get there, and to shut off that opportunity at 25 seems daft."

The commission will work with a number of bodies in its investigation. These will include the Construction Industry Training Board, sector skills councils, contractors and other employers.