Closing the Gap: Getting Women into Construction

With women currently representing only 11 per cent of the construction workforce, Procure Plus takes an active role in ensuring better gender equality and gives women the opportunity to build a career in this lifelong industry.

Working with Oldham-based Emanuel Whittaker, Procure Plus has supported the contractor to create 32 apprenticeships over the past five years, including for local resident, Katie Lockwood.

What Katie Did


In 2006, Emanuel Whittaker was chosen for the Procure Plus framework to complete a variety of projects across the North West. Both were aware of the lack of female workers in construction and agreed it was something they wanted to change. To encourage more women into the trades, they decided to offer tailored education and training via apprenticeships.

 In February 2008, Katie – a 16 year old with no qualifications – was offered an entry level role at Emanuel Whittaker, working on projects through Procure Plus. Katie got stuck into her new role from day one and was set to begin a Level 2 apprenticeship in Brickwork in September 2008. However, Katie then discovered she was to become a mum, and decided to put her studies on hold.

What Katie Did Next

What Katie did next (V1) PH 18.02.2015

As a young mum, the thought of balancing an apprenticeship with raising a child was daunting. But Katie was a brilliant apprentice and neither Procure Plus nor Emanuel Whittaker wanted to lose her. To make sure she was able to carry on learning her trade, Procure Plus and Emanuel Whittaker helped put the support in place that Katie needed to succeed.

A year later, in September 2009, Katie took up the Level 2 Brickwork apprenticeship at Oldham College. Like all the apprentices supported by Procure Plus, Katie was given a toolkit to help with her practical work and was supported so she could gain the experience and skills she needed to succeed.

In February 2011, Katie became a mum for the second time, but didn’t want to delay her studies. She continued to go to college during her maternity leave and, incredibly, managed to complete her key skills and Level 2 qualification by June the same year.

Spurred on by her success, and confident she could balance raising her young family while working, Katie enrolled for her Level 3 apprenticeship in Brickwork in September 2011.

When working on her Level 3, Katie realised she’d be able to do more work at Emanuel Whittaker if she was able to drive. To help her reach her goal, Procure Plus gave Katie vouchers for driving lessons and supported her in passing her test. By July 2012, a lot of hard work saw Katie sail through her Level 3 qualification and pass her driving test.

After finishing her Level 3 Brickwork, Katie didn’t want to stop there. She set her sights on a Higher National Diploma (HND), but the qualifications she’d already achieved didn’t give her direct access. Instead, Lee Bradbury, Emanuel Whittaker’s Health, Safety & Environment Manager, helped Katie identify the National Certificate (ONC) in Construction and the Built Environment course, as a bridging qualification that would help her progress onto a two-year, HND.

In September 2013, Salford City College launched their pilot Higher Level Apprenticeship in Construction Management with funding provided by the UK Commission’s Employer Ownership of Skills programme and Katie, with the support of Procure Plus and Emanuel Whittaker, became one of the first Higher Apprentices in Greater Manchester. Successful completion of the course will see Katie gain both a HND in Construction and the Built Environment and an NVQ level 5 Diploma in Construction Management.

In recognition of Katie’s progress, in January 2014, Emanuel Whittaker promoted Katie to site supervisor – a role which allows her to demonstrate the skills required by the NVQ element of her course.

What Katie’s Doing Now

What Katie is doing now (V1) PH 18.02.2015

Katie has been an ambassador for Emanuel Whittaker and the construction industry and regularly shares her experiences with other young people, encouraging them to consider an apprenticeship and a career in construction.

Katie has made huge achievements success on her Higher Apprenticeship course and has received a distinction for her Environmental Impact assignment. She is quickly building up her knowledge, and is striving to become a site manager at Emanuel Whitaker – an ambition she’s sure to achieve.

Lee said: “Working with Procure Plus has enabled us to make a really positive difference in Katie’s life, and she’s proving a true asset to the business. She’s gone from strength to strength in her studies and is working hard to reach her goals.

“Katie is just one of 32 apprentices we’ve employed over the past five years as part of the Procure Plus frameworks, and it’s thanks to the support we receive from Procure Plus that we have been able to build strong relationships with our local colleges, and can offer a regular and effective apprenticeship programme.”

Construction comeback set to create over 200,000 jobs

CITB Industry StatsA resurgence of growth in the regions and nations is driving a strong construction comeback, which is set to create more than 200,000 construction jobs and expand the sector by up to 2.9%, year-on-year, according to new research released today by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

CITB’s latest industry forecast, the Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, predicts an increase of over 8,000 jobs per year on last year’s forecast with the annual demand for workers increasing to 44,690.

For the first time since the downturn, investment boosts in housing, leisure and infrastructure will deliver growth in every region, casting aside perceptions of a recovery driven only by the South East.

The annual forecast also shows that:

  • The UK’s private housing sector is set to continue growing at a rate of 4.6% over the forecast period to 2019, with the commercial sector set to grow at the same rate
  • A resurgence of growth and employment in the north of England has the potential to create an economic power base in the region, with the North West set to grow by 2.5%, the North East by 2.3%, and Yorkshire and Humber by 2.3% annually, over the forecast period
  • The biggest regional growth will be seen in Wales, which is predicted to grow by almost 6% year-on-year and create as many as 5,320 jobs in the next five years
  • Scotland is expected to see a drop in growth from 2% to 1.1% over the next five years, as a result of completed infrastructure projects associated with the re-development of the M8 and the Commonwealth Games, but infrastructure investment remains at historic levels.

Steve Radley, CITB’s Director of Policy and Strategic Planning, said: “Our CSN forecast shows that construction is experiencing a major comeback – with a sustained period of growth set to make a positive impact on the wider economy.

“Leisure, infrastructure and housing are all driving growth, but this brings with it new challenges in meeting skills demand.

“Employers will need to pull every lever available to them to meet the skills challenge they face but government can play a vital role in giving them the confidence to invest in training for the long-term.

“CITB is already identifying future skills needs and working with government and industry on the talent pipeline. But to help it plan ahead, industry needs a clear commitment from all political parties in the run up to the General Election that infrastructure projects will be delivered on time and to plan in the next Parliament.”

“Government can also help employers to develop the next generation of workers by sending out a clear signal that it will make it as simple as possible for companies of all sizes to invest in apprenticeships.”

The Construction Industry Training Board is calling for:

  • Continued commitment from all parties to deliver the National Infrastructure Plan
  • Renewed focus on improving the quality and delivery of careers advice in schools to attract the next generation of construction workers
  • Government investment in the energy efficiency and retrofit market, given the anticipated future skills demand and the UK’s pressing environmental targets
  • Industry and government to back CITB’s industry-wide campaign to create clear and accessible pathways into construction for people from all backgrounds.

Simon Carr, Managing Director of Henry Boot Construction, Private Sector Board Member of the Sheffield Local Enterprise Partnership and incoming chair of the National Federation of Builders said: “After a period of decline for construction, it is reassuring to see a resurgence of growth in the north of England.

“Investment in infrastructure, leisure, housing and commercial projects in the northern regions not only has the benefit of creating thousands of jobs where they’re needed the most and boosting local economies, having a profound impact on the UK economy in the long term.”

Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: “Our industry is working hard to deliver the vital infrastructure that underpins the rest of the UK economy.

“In the last year there has been strong growth in demand that must be matched by rising recruitment. Contractors are already ramping up activity to bring apprentices and graduates into the sector, creating new careers in offices and sites across the country.

“But we must match this by attracting back those who may have left the industry during the downturn.

“We hope that the prospect of a decade of investment to improve our national infrastructure will attract this vital source of knowledge and experience back to the sector.”

First Published on CITB’s Website 

Jobs boost for unemployed construction workers

The construction industry therefore has a significant role to play in the growth of local economies as the UK returns to growth following the recession.  The joint investment programme will support the need to address skills gaps in areas of opportunity to ensure that construction businesses can meet growing demand and contribute to local economic growth

According to the new initiative, £1m will be invested by both parties to support a programme of skills and training activity tailored specifically to meeting the needs of the sector in Greater London. The scheme was developed to support construction’s role in boosting the capital’s economy and directly address the growing skills gap in the industry.

BE Group has been procured to provide project management services for the Greater London Joint Initiative.  Providers have been signed to deliver the six development projects in Greater London.

Ixion Holdings and the Green Skills Partnership will be developing and delivering a programme of support to help 500 unemployed construction workers to re-enter the industry and ensure that valuable skills are retained in the sector.

The Construction Youth Trust and London Youth have been procured to develop and deliver a shared work placement programme for 100 NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) while Bouygues will be providing bespoke support for clients interested in adopting the National Skills Academy for Construction’s Client Based Approach.

Shared Intelligence, Montpellier and a consortium comprising of BE Group, the FMB (Federation of Master Builders) and the London Borough of Croydon have been procured to deliver a range of specialist business development training for construction SMEs across Greater London while Emergent have been commissioned to conduct research to understand the potential for the development of construction SME cooperatives in the capital.

Janette Welton-Pai, CITB Sector Strategy Manager for Greater London, said:

“We’re delighted to have secured providers for each of the projects in this exciting initiative. We firmly believe the providers will bring real value to the construction industry in Greater London in the near future.

“We know that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to skills and it’s particularly important in the current climate to ensure that any training or up-skilling is relevant. CITB looks forward to seeing the programme of projects get underway and make a difference for London’s construction employers and workers.”

The London scheme forms part of a wider Joint Investment programme being rolled out by CITB which aims to promote and develop local construction skills in key localities.  The construction sector accounts for 8% GDP and a workforce of 2.1 million across the UK.

The construction industry therefore has a significant role to play in the growth of local economies as the UK returns to growth following the recession.  The joint investment programme will support the need to address skills gaps in areas of opportunity to ensure that construction businesses can meet growing demand and contribute to local economic growth.

Harvey McGrath, Deputy Chair of the London Enterprise Panel, said:

“Much work has gone in to setting this programme up and I am very pleased that the six strands of training and support are now ready to go.  The construction sector is key to the success of London’s economy, which is why the London Enterprise Panel fully supports this initiative as part of a wider programme of activity that the LEP is leading in order to ensure London can provide the skills that the sector will need to deliver growth in the capital.”

We show benefits of diversity training


Holding on to your best talent

The industry is currently struggling to attract and keep the right talent and this makes it harder to keep good staff and attract good subcontractors. Our products are designed to help you create working environments that your employees want to stay in and progress in, whatever their background.

By working across the industry as well as focusing on the structural challenges facing the sector such as late payment terms, along the cultural and personal ones faced by companies, the framework is much more than a business tool; it is a strategy for improvement across the industry. That means that it needs your support. By signing up to the framework and backing its vision for positive industry change, the momentum can influence clients, main contractors and government.

  • An action plan tailored for your business, written by industry experts
  • Access to an online upload system for assessment documentation
  • Behavioural assessment of your organisation

Chrissi McCarthy is managing director of Constructing Equality email

Taylor Wimpey calls for more inclusive construction industry

One of the UK’s largest homebuilders has spoken out about the lack of diversity in construction, and has called for a more inclusive industry.

Female painter and decorator at work

Taylor Wimpey, which provides work for more than 15,000 staff and subcontractors, will be working with the CITB – the Industrial Training Board (ITB) for the construction industry in Great Britain – to address the diversity challenges facing the industry, and is supporting CITB’s Be Fair framework accreditation, to be launched in June 2014.

The Be Fair Framework is being developed by the industry, for the industry, to create inclusive working environments which support not only individuals but also other companies across construction and the built environment sector.

The Framework aims to address negative cultures and practices to create a fair, inclusive and respectful industry for everyone.

Taylor Wimpey Chief Executive Pete Redfern said: “We strongly believe that having a diverse workforce is not just the right thing to do but offers clear business benefits.

“It helps us to attract and retain the best people with the broadest range of talent and makes sure that our staff, who come from a variety of backgrounds, age groups and career paths, can relate to the communities that we work with and offer the best service.

“With 19% of construction workers reaching retirement age within the next decade, we will have a huge gap to fill. We need to invest today to ensure that we have the right skills, expertise and drive to meet the ever growing demand for new homes in the future, and this can only be achieved by attracting a much wider range of candidates than has been done in the industry before.”

Traditionally, construction is seen as a ‘job for the boys’, with Taylor Wimpey taking the lead in challenging this perception through a variety of tailor-made initiatives – targeted recruitment campaigns to attract candidates, from a variety of ethnic and professional backgrounds and across different age groups is one example.

Also in addition to continuing their trade apprenticeship schemes, Taylor Wimpey has recently launched a new site management specific apprenticeship scheme to tackle skills shortage in the industry, aiming to attract around 100 new site management apprentices by the end of 2015 through the scheme.

Judy Lowe, Deputy Chairman at CITB “Support from industry leaders like Taylor Wimpey is what we need to address the issue of diversity within construction.

“For example, women have made up only 12% of the industry for the last decade and with confidence in construction growing, we need 182,000 qualified construction workers in the next five years to meet the skills demand.

“That’s why we need to attract the best and brightest talent to our industry regardless of gender and background.

“Like Taylor Wimpey, CITB is taking action by introducing the BeFair framework to help create more inclusive working environments, both in office and on sites, to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and with respect.”

CITB reveals new ‘streamlined’ 8-member board

james_wates_310Nick Boles, the Minister of State for Skills and Equalities, today announced CITB’s new Board which will revolutionise how the Industry Training Board operates, increase diversity and put industry at the heart of decision-making.

The streamlined eight-member Board includes five women from across the industry and brings together levy payers and independent members from England, Wales and Scotland, who will be able to make swift decisions based on the industry’s needs.  They will be supported by a CITB Council with members drawn from across the built environment sector.

Skills and Equalities Minister Nick Boles said, “The new Board will have a major role in helping this dynamic industry develop the skills it needs to grow. “I congratulate all the new Trustees on their appointment and look forward to seeing them working with business and employers to address the skills challenges faced by the construction sector.

“I am particularly pleased to see greater diversity on the Board and hope that it encourages more women to consider a career in construction.”

James Wates CBE, who will Chair the new Board said, “The appointment of a diverse, smaller, industry-led Board  marks the next stage of a reform programme that will make us even more relevant and responsive to the needs and ambitions of the industry we serve.

“Our industry is facing challenging times and I am delighted that the Secretary of State has appointed a Board which fairly reflects  our industry – both in terms of diversity and representation from all three UK nations.

“As an organisation we have made increasing the number of women in the industry a priority and I am proud that CITB is the first Non-Departmental Public Body to have a Board made up of over 50% women.

“I look forward to working with our new colleagues to drive change and make a lasting contribution to our industry in the year ahead.”

The membership of the new CITB Board is:


James Wates CBE, Chairman Wates Group


Maureen Douglas, Group HR Director, Forster Group Ltd. (Scotland)

David Harris MBE, Managing Director, WRW Construction Ltd. (Wales)

Karen Jones, Group HR Director, Redrow plc.

Maria Pilfold, HR Consultant and former Director of the Taylor Wimpey Group

Ray Wilson, Director and General Manager, Carillion Training Services


Dr. Diana Garnham, CEO, Science Council

Frances Wadsworth, Principal and CEO, Croydon College

Industry helpline offers counselling for construction workers

270x180_1418109148_wristbandThe Construction Industry Helpline aims to provide confidential, round-the-clock support to the construction industry’s workforce and their families on a range of topics including finance, depression, occupational health and wellbeing, illness and bereavement.

The service has been set up by construction’s charity, The Lighthouse Club, supported by the Considerate Constructors Scheme and several corporate sponsors.

It has no public money and relies entirely on the generosity and support of industry organisations, fundraising groups and individuals. Initial backers include Mulalley, Canary Wharf Contractors, Elev8 Interiors, Parkeray and Rydon.

As is the modern way, silicone wristbands are being sold to raise funds, as are A2 posters that promote the service.

Lighthouse Club chief executive Bill Hill said: “This unique helpline will give helpful advice to those facing difficult times as a result of unforeseen circumstances such as illness, accident or bereavement. I like to think of the construction industry as one big family with a duty of care and responsibility to its workers – as considerate constructors. I hope the industry and its workforce will benefit greatly from this worthwhile initiative.”

Edward Hardy, chief executive of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, added: “We’re delighted to support the launch of the Construction Industry Helpline to help our workforce in times of need. The construction industry has a macho image, but like all sectors of society and as in all industries, people encounter a wide range of professional and personal difficulties and it can be hard to know where to turn to get help. Anyone calling will know that they’re speaking to someone who understands the nature of the construction industry and that they can do so in absolute confidence. Supported employees will feel more secure and confident in their roles and will therefore be happier in their working environment. It’s a welcome development in the industry.”

The helpline number is 0845 605 1956 and the website is at

Read the full article at the Construction Index

Leicester College Bricklaying Apprentice wins gold at WorldSkills UK Skills Show

Leicester College Bricklaying Apprentice wins gold at WorldSkills UK Skills Show

A bricklaying apprentice from Leicester College is celebrating after taking joint gold medal at the WorldSkills UK 2014 national final, which took place at the NEC in November 2014.

Tom Sinfield, 21 from Shepshed, Loughborough, had already taken silver medal in the same competition a year before. To triumph in the regional heats of SkillBuild for the second year and then successfully compete against the other highest scorers nationally at the WorldSkills UK Skill Show, the UK’s biggests skill and career show, Tom has done exceptionally well.

Tom who is employed by Jelson LTD, said he is proud of representing Leicester College and showcasing his skill for the second year running.

He said: “To win Gold medal after winning silver last year is just amazing. I have worked very hard over the last year to perfect my skill even further and it has really paid off.”

“I want to continue to grow and learn more and hopefully win more medals in the future.”

Keith Binns, Brick work lecturer at Leicester College has supported Tom throughout the competitions. He said: “I am absolutely delighted for Tom, having missed out on UK Squad selection earlier in the year this is a wonderful way to have his hard work and endeavours recognised, he has worked so hard over not only this year but for the whole of the three years he has been with us here at Leicester College. His accolades serve to remind others of what can be with the right attitude to learning, a passion for what you are doing and determination to be successful. To win a silver medal last year and improve that with a gold medal this year is a truly marvellous achievement and one which as his tutor I feel both proud and privileged to of been a party to.”

WorldSkills UK Competitions inspire young people and adults to be ambitious in their pursuit of skills to the highest level and are the highlight of The Skills Show. During The Skills Show, over 700 of the UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners battled it out in 70 Competitions ranging from Visual Merchandise to Floristry to be named the ‘best in the UK’ in their chosen skill.

Ross Maloney, Chief Executive, Find a Future, said: “The Skills Show is an amazing showcase for the nation’s vast variety of skills. Just as we celebrate our athletes, so we champion our skills and inspire young people to make their own mark on industry.  Congratulations to all those who took part in the WorldSkills UK Competitions.

“It is through competition activity, The Skills Show and The Skills Show Experience that Find a Future can provide young people and their parents with the chance to get excited about the world of work and make informed choices about their future.”

Tom may be invited to join the shortlist for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017. The WorldSkills Competition takes place every two years in cities around the globe and is the largest international skills competition, Squad UK is currently in training for WorldSkills São Paulo 2015 which takes place from 11 to 16 August, 2015.


Freeing the construction industry of modern slavery

s216_karen_bradley2According to the latest figures from The Salvation Army, the number of modern slavery victims they help in the UK has risen by 62 per cent. Shockingly, there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in history.

That’s why we launched our Modern Slavery Campaign this summer, helping give people the confidence to report suspected slavery. We set up a dedicated helpline (0800 0121 700) for people to talk through any concerns and a website packed full of advice.

However, recent statistics from the National Crime Agency show that in the UK 27 per cent of potential victims are trafficked into labour exploitation. We cannot beat slavery without the help of UK businesses and we need the construction sector to join our fight.

Modern slavery can affect businesses across the UK, whether large or small. Traffickers, slave masters and illegal gangmasters target a range of industries, including construction. The construction sector contributes £83 billion to the UK economy and employs 2.15 million people. Organised criminals are looking for opportunities to exploit this lucrative industry.

“Organised criminals are looking for opportunities to exploit this lucrative industry”

We know that 53 potential victims were referred to UK authorities from the construction sector in 2013. This number might seem small, but these are only the victims who have been referred. Slavery’s hidden nature means the actual figures are likely to be much higher.

There are things we can all look out for, so that people who abuse others do not get away with it.

Some warning signs may be apparent from the first time you meet a potential employee. Perhaps they seem malnourished, unkempt, or injured. They might often wear the same clothes, or clothes unsuitable for work. You may notice they seem withdrawn or frightened and unable to interact easily with colleagues.

Other signals take longer to emerge, such as noticing that someone you employ does not have their own legal documents, or their wages are paid into a bank account in someone else’s name. The person could perceive themselves as indebted to someone, or seem afraid of the authorities.

“Some warning signs may be apparent from the first time you meet a potential employee”

It is the responsibility of businesses to undertake due diligence and work closely with suppliers to check supply chains are slavery free. The Modern Slavery Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, will include a measure which will require big businesses to publicly state each year what action they have taken to protect against slavery.

However, there is also an onus on each of us as individuals. If you are offered a ready supply of labour at cheap rates, or if you become suspicious about the circumstances of an employee, it might seem easier to turn a blind eye.

My message to you is this: please do not ignore your suspicions.

We all have a responsibility to stamp out this evil trade and together we can work to free the construction industry of modern slavery.

Karen Bradley is minister for modern slavery and organised crime

First Published in Construction News