Construction Scheme Women Celebrates One Year

A training and work experience scheme set up to encourage women back into employment and into construction is celebrating a year of success.

The ‘Women into Construction’ programme, run by BeOnsite and supported by CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Industry Training Board and Sector Skills Council, trained 248 women on the Olympic Park site from the start of the programme back in 2008 to July 2011. Aged 18-60 and from 14 different ethnicities, many of the participants were long term unemployed from surrounding Olympic host boroughs.

Judy Lowe, deputy chairman for CITB-ConstructionSkills and chair of the Construction industry Leadership Forum for Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) said: “I’m delighted that CITB-ConstructionSkills has supported the ‘Women into Construction’ project. It is truly inspirational and has turned out to be a life changing experience for many of the women who we heard from at the event.

“But it’s not only the women who have benefited. Programmes like this one provide a fantastic opportunity for the construction industry to increase the number of women working on sites, which continues to be a challenge for the sector. Just over 1% of on-site employees are female and this needs to change sooner rather than later. We’ve been working hard to redress the balance and to encourage more women to consider a career in construction. A more diverse and representative workforce, both on and off site, will strengthen construction’s skills base and render it better placed to compete internationally.”

Since leaving the Olympic Park in August 2011, the project has extended across London and a further 155 women have been trained, with one trainee even qualifying on day release as a JCB driver whilst finishing a prison sentence

The programme was initiated by the Olympic Delivery Authority as a response to the low numbers of women on site at the Olympic Park and was supported by 14 of the major site contractors who provided work experience opportunities for the women. It managed to double the numbers of women working on the Olympic site and to date the scheme has secured permanent roles for 49 women and work placements for 45 others.

The programme’s achievements were marked at an evening event at Lend Lease’s Regent’s Place Headquarters, in central London. The event was designed to celebrate and recognise the achievements of many of the women at the end of the construction-related phase of the Olympic project.

Lend Lease’s not-for-profit company BeOnsite was chosen by CITB-ConstructionSkills to lead this flagship scheme building upon its success at the Olympic Park.

Kath Moore, project manager, Women into Construction, said: “The ‘Women into Construction’ scheme has been a great success with half of the initial cohort having gone on to secure permanent employment in the industry. Schemes such as this help support the development of a diverse workforce in the UK construction industry – with women coming from a range of different backgrounds and circumstances.”

Andrew Altman, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, added: “Apprenticeships are vital to boost skills in East London. They will provide an important connection for local people to access up to 8,000 job opportunities on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park over the next 20 years.”

“We are working with fantastic projects such as Women in Construction to help people prepare for jobs on the Park. It is another example of how legacy plans are further ahead than any previous Olympic host city.”

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