Construction skills shortage: Could tackling gender diversity issues provide the answer?
Did you know that one in five UK construction businesses have no women in senior roles? Facts such as this have driven some commentators to state that there is ‘a prejudice’ against female workers in the sector, but what is the real situation and is there still hope for better gender diversity in construction?
Research suggests that the drive towards equality for all is more successful in some sectors than others. According to Construction News, 50% of all construction firms claim they have never had a female manager.
What is even more striking is that, when asking the women who did work within the industry, 48% claimed they had experienced gender discrimination in the workplace, with the most common example of this (28%) being inappropriate comments or behaviour from male colleagues. These are figures that prove that the industry still needs to enforce more regulations to change attitudes towards women in the industry and encourage equality.
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What about pay? Is there a difference in how much women earn compared to men in construction? Nearly half of construction companies (42%) do not monitor equal pay between gender in the business and 68% were not aware of any initiatives to support women transitioning into senior roles. Furthermore, according to Randstad, 79% of men believe they earn the same as their female colleagues in the same position. However, 41% of women disagree — highlighting the need for better pay transparency within the industry to dispel perceptions that men are earning more.
In the future
Construction is a very male-dominated industry. Regarding on-site construction, data shows that 99% of roles are filled by men. Despite the figures, 93% of construction workers believe having a female boss would not affect their jobs, or would in fact have a positive effect by improving the working environment.
But how about in the years to come? According to Randstad, female employees are anticipated to constitute just over 25% of the UK’s construction workforce by 2020. But, could employing more women not help the sector ease the pressure on its low workforce numbers? With the industry raising concerns that it is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, 82% of people working in construction agree that there is a serious skills shortage. If demand is expected to require an additional million extra workers by 2020, women could account for a significant portion of that — especially in senior roles, which have previously been bias towards their male colleagues.
However, research into gender diversity in construction isn’t all negative. In 2005, there were just 6% of women in senior roles within the UK’s construction industry. However, fast forward to 2015, and this number rose to 16%. Plus, it’s expected to continue to go up as we approach 2020.
How about promotions for female workers? Back in 2005, 79% of women in the industry were dissatisfied with the progression of their careers. However, in 2015, this number more than halved to just 29%. Some of this progression was even attributed to the fact that almost half of women in the industry (49%) believe their employer to be very supportive of women in construction.
Unfortunately, the sector is still far behind reaching optimum gender diversity. Ranstad also reports that there remains a tendency within the industry to exclude women from male conversations or social events, with 46% of females experiencing being sidelined. A further 28% said they had been offered a less important role and 25% reported being passed over for promotion.
However, more than three quarters of female workers claimed that they would recommend a job in construction to a female friend, daughter or niece — clearly, women within the industry are generally positive about their positions. With a 60% increase in the average annual salary for women in the construction sector in the past decade from £24,500 in 2005 to £39,200 in 2015, there is no denying that progress is being made to combat gender inequality. But, there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully, by 2020, we can report further positive developments, making roles more attractive to females and providing a solution to the lack of skilled workers in the industry right now.
By Louise Richardson, Copywriter, Niftylifts
Tokyo 'most expensive city' for construction
Tokyo has picked up an unenviable gold medal after being classified the most expensive city for construction.
As the Japanese city prepares a subdued opening to the Olympic Games on Friday, the International Construction Market Survey 2021 by Turner & Townsend found it was the most costly for building, with an average cost of $4,002 per sqm, followed by Hong Kong ($3,894 per sqm) and San Francisco ($3,720 per sqm). New York and Geneva were ranked fourth and fifth respectively.
The survey forecasts that rising prices being seen in the global construction sector will be sustained through 2022 and into 2023.
The widespread disruption to global supply chains witnessed through the pandemic is also being sustained by high demand and competition for key materials between global markets including the US, Europe and Asia.
Globally, demand for steel, softwood and copper piping have seen prices rise sharply over the year, with increases of up to 40 percent seen in some international cities including Tokyo, Sydney, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Birmingham, Glasgow and Dublin.
As activity accelerates, supply chain constraints are increasing and skills shortages are worsening, resulting in substantial construction cost inflation in many markets.
Neil Bullen, Global Managing Director, Real Estate Turner & Townsend said material shortages have undoubtedly recast the client and supplier dynamic and there is currently a shift in power from client to supplier in many markets around the world.
"Companies need to work closely with their supply chains to guard against these risks – moving from a ‘just in time’ to a ‘just in case’ approach to delivery," he said. “Beyond material and skills shortages, public and private sector clients across the world are juggling multiple, competing goals and priorities. From accommodating hybrid working patterns, to embedding social value into their operations and taking concrete steps towards net zero, success is no longer judged by the old mantra of ‘better faster, cheaper’.”
London ($3,203 per sqm), which ranked third in 2019’s report, fell to eighth place behind Geneva, Zurich, and Boston. The fall in ranking reflects the buoyancy of other construction markets and the combined effects of Brexit and COVID-19, which placed many projects on hold, restricting demand for new work in 2020.
According to the research, the most buoyant construction sector across all 90 markets are data centres, driven by the unabated growth in technology and digitalisation. It is the first year that data centres have topped the ranking moving up from sixth position in 2019.