New research warns the UK’s house-building industry must do more to attract women and young people to avoid a workforce crisis.
Housebuilders need to 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 house-building sector warns of a significant shortfall in workers caused by an over-reliance on an ageing, male-dominated workforce and 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 (source: The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model), the NHBC Foundation report calls on government and house builders 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 house-building companies and senior industry commentators, notes that only 12% of the UK’s house building 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 house-building industry.
Chi Onwurah MP said: “Having worked as an electrical engineer for two decades I know the importance of achieving greater diversity in male-dominated professions. Like NHBC, I believe more can be done to promote opportunities for women in the house-building sector and inspire the sector’s next generation of female leaders. It’s hugely encouraging to see NHBC recognise that diversity isn’t an optional add-on but a key measure of success in the modern world.”
Commenting on the report, NHBC 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 house-building 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.”
Commenting on her experiences as a woman working in the house-building industry, 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 house-building 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.”