A cross-industry campaign to boost the diversity of the construction workforce is to be ramped up after receiving a huge funding boost.
A total of £1.5M has been pledged for the third phase of the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) programme, half of it by training board the CITB.
The initiative, which started off in the infrastructure sector and is supported by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), will look to train managers and recruit up to 500 ambassadors over the next five years.
CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “With a pipeline of work of £502bn and an unprecedented skills shortage, we need to bring about a culture change in the industry and recognise the need to adopt FIR principles in order to attract, recruit, train and retain the skills and talent that we need to deliver it.
“I am delighted that the funding from CITB will help the FIR steering group continue to develop the tools the industry needs for the journey.”
CECA is on the steering group with the CITB, Highways England, HS2, Network Rail, Balfour Beatty, Bam Construct UK, Graham Construction, Osborne, Skanska and Vinci Construction UK. The delivery partner is Action Sustainability.
CITB chief executive Sarah Beale said: “Our industry is facing skills challenges due to a strong pipeline of work alongside external factors like Brexit and an ageing workforce, so it’s vital that we widen the talent pool.
“This initiative will help employers ensure that their workplaces are open to people from all backgrounds, bringing benefits like increased recruitment and productivity to the whole industry.”
The money will be spent on initiatives such as training trainers, running workshops and creating online resources. It is ultimately hoped that more construction managers will learn to overcome issues such as unconscious bias that hinder the broadening of the industry’s talent pool.