A more diverse construction workforce is at the heart of a new equity and inclusion plan launched in Scotland to give the building industry access to a wider talent pool and tackle labour shortfalls.

Currently, women account for 2.7 per cent of Scotland’s modern apprenticeships and makeup 15.4 per cent of the workforce with a 23 per cent pay gap. Just 1.6 per cent of those in the building sector are from ethnic minorities compared with 4.3 per cent across Scotland as a whole, according to 2020 annual population figures.

Business minister and Construction Leadership Forum, CLF, chair Ivan McKee said: “Companies with better records of fair work, equity and inclusion do better, have a healthier and more engaged workforce and demonstrate greater diversity of thought. Fairness and inclusiveness encourage better relations with partners, shareholders, customers and employees.”

Concrete steps planned within next three years

The plan advocates sharing best practices across the sector using data and industry feedback to benchmark progress and develop an industry-wide equity and inclusion plan by 2026.

Arcadis technical director and CLF’s skills and workforce co-chair Emma Dickson said: “It is critical the industry acts to be more diverse and inclusive. The plan sets out key areas we should focus on to make that happen. Larger construction companies are making improvements, but many SMEs need tangible support to make the changes needed. The next steps will be critical to make sure this happens.”

The plan has suggested that larger companies should offer SMEs training support included as a community benefit and offered to their supply chain as part of winning work.

The CLF has recommended that a charter and accreditation system be created for companies to adopt and that Scotland should conduct an annual survey to measure progress.

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders supported greater diversity in the sector given that 33 per cent of construction workers in Scotland were over the age of 50.

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Shiraz Khan