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Discrimination causes construction skill shortages


CONSTRUCTION FACES a growing skills shortage unless it tackles its poor equal opportunities records and attracts more of the best young people into the industry, according to a new Government backed project launched this week.

'Change the face of construction' hopes to widen the pool of talent available to employers through the new 'practical approach' campaign targeted at women, disabled people and black and ethnic minorities.

The project is being led by long-standing equal opportunity campaigners Sandi Rhys-Jones and Helen Stone. Rhys-Jones chaired the post-Lathem report Construction Industry Board Working Group 8 on equal opportunities. Stone, a Fellow of the ICE, currently chairs the Construction Industry Council's Equal Opportunities Task Force.

According to their research, women account for just 3% of industry employees. The campaign hopes to boost these figures to 25%. It also estimates that while 97% of companies currently have equal opportunity policies, only 35% have plans to put them into action.

'Companies which actively follow equal opportunities can benefit from greater diversity of knowledge, skills and attributes,' explained Rhys- Jones. 'Also, by including minorities, they are provided with a larger talent pool from which they can recruit the best staff available.'

The campaign will include training workshops, conferences, mentoring and award schemes. A website has also been developed to provide networking opportunities, information exchange and news for employers and employees alike.

Nina Lovelace

Helen Stone/Sandi Rhys-Jones (0208) 305 2277

(see feature page 14)

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