Contractor Morgan Sindall has called for the age limit on funding for construction apprenticeships to be scrapped, as it discriminates against women embarking on a second career in the industry.
Funding from the Construction Industry Training Board and the Learning and Skills Council is restricted to those completing their modern apprenticeships by the age of 25. Morgan Sindall believes this has caused the low number of women in the industry.

John Morgan, chairman of Morgan Sindall, said the age limit deters companies from taking on older applicants, because they are more expensive to train. A woman looking for a second career in construction is thus denied "the opportunity to gain a thorough grounding in craft skills".

Brian Berry, assistant head of policy at the RICS, praised Morgan Sindall's call. He said: "Any move that would encourage a greater cross-section into the construction industry is desirable.

"'Mud 'n' boots' is the image of the construction industry – we need to move away from that."

The Office for National Statistics' 2000 Labour Force Survey found that only 10% of the construction workforce is made up of women – most of whom hold office-based administrative roles.

According to CITB figures, the industry needs 74,000 new recruits each year from now until 2005 to tackle the skills shortage.