Construction minister Brian Wilson this week attacked the industry for not employing enough people from ethnic minorities.
Wilson was speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference organised by the Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association. His comments were made in advance of a Construction Industry Training Board report to be launched next week that reveals that ethnic minorities make up only 2% of workers in the construction industry, compared with 6.7% of the British working population.

Wilson said: "The industry is still a white male one. Construction is cutting itself off from half the workforce by recruiting so few women and ethnic minorities. They are both grossly unrepresented on building sites."

He added that the industry suffers from an image problem that undermines the drives to widen its skills base. He said: "The industry cannot continue to behave in that way and complain that it doesn't have the workforce it needs."

Wilson admitted that government and industry needed to work harder to ensure that smaller companies are aware of, and able to implement, the initiatives launched by Sir John Egan. He also defended the PFI, which came under renewed criticism from unions this week.

The CITB report will be launched next Wednesday at the strategic forum's Respect for People conference.

It has been written by a team from the Royal Holloway, University of London, and will follow up a similar report by the university three years ago.