Housebuilders 'must do more to attract women and young people'

Published:  25 June, 2017

The UK's housebuilding industry must do more to attract women and young people to avoid a workforce crisis, according to new research

Housebuilders must do more to attract women and young people if the industry is to avoid a workforce crisis, new research from the NHBC Foundation has found.

NHBC Foundation report 'The gender and age profile of the housebuilding sector' warns of a significant shortfall in workers caused by an over-reliance on an ageing, male-dominated workforce, as well as potential restrictions to migrant labour following Brexit

With estimates showing that the sector needs to recruit 700,000 more people to replace those retiring or moving on, plus an extra 120,000 if the government's aim to build one million new homes by 2020 is to be achieved, the NHBC Foundation report calls on the government and housebuilders to recognise the seriousness of the problem and to act now to address the shortfall.

The report, based on data from the Office of National Statistics' Labour Force Survey and detailed interviews with housebuilding companies and senior industry commentators, provides a valuable insight into age and gender diversity within the housebuilding sector. According to the research, just 12% of the UK's housebuilding workforce is female, the majority working in secretarial or administration jobs, with less than 4% having a skilled trade role. The report also finds that young people, especially girls, are put off working in the industry because of the negative, stereotypical image of a male-dominated housebuilding industry.

Some of the major challenges for the industry in attracting women and young people include:

  • One of the main findings of the report is that women are still seriously under-represented in skilled, technical and managerial roles in housebuilding. It identifies a number of challenges that need to be tackled by the sector, which are deep-rooted and endemic, such as ongoing stereotyping and antiquated recruitment practices.
  • Uninformed and outdated careers advice in schools is also failing to make all young people aware of the variety of jobs and roles on offer, with advisers unable to promote effectively the many attractive career opportunities in the sector.

Commenting on the report, NHBC's Head of Research and Innovation, Neil Smith, said: "Young people and young women in particular need to be made aware of the wide range of roles in the housebuilding industry. From design to engineering and site management, many careers in house building are rewarding and well paid, offering work in a variety of roles and environments."

Redrow Homes' site manager and 2016 NHBC Pride in the Job Seal of Excellence winner Zara Fairman said: "It's a real privilege to be able to show that it's not just a man's world and that women can do well in the housebuilding industry. It's also important to know that you don't necessarily have to be from a trade, or engineering background - there are lots of transferable skills needed for this job."

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