Strengthening the relationship between industry and academia is key to improving equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in construction
Encouraging young people to consider construction is always difficult, especially when it comes to those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.
Creating longer lasting impact (whether that be raising awareness of construction to children, careers advisers or teachers in schools) can be tricky, but there are always alternatives.
A common misconception is that a school governor should be a parent or education expert, but this isn’t the case. For boards to operate effectively, a combination of skills as well as different life experiences is critical to enhancing the strategic direction of a school.
Governorship diversity issues
However, school governorship has a diversity issue – which might sound familiar to those of us who work in and with the construction sector.
A recent survey found that 77% of school governors and trustees are struggling to recruit new governorship board members, which is exacerbating diversity gaps across the UK.
A common misconception is that a school governor should be a parent or education expert, but this isn’t the case. For boards to operate effectively, a combination of skills as well as different life experiences is critical to enhancing the strategic direction of a school
What’s more, another survey found that only 8% of governors and trustee respondents were from an ethnic minority background, and just 4% were aged under 34.
School governorship can be a win-win situation, strengthening schools while giving back to the local community and society in general, driving that all important social value as well as the professional development for staff.
So how could it benefit construction specifically?
Governors can broaden their networks and be the ambassador for the company but also demonstrate that commitment to the wider community.
Demonstrating the importance of construction as a considerate sector is of vital importance, as well as showing that commitment to EDI can only be a benefit.
Further to this, if governors are given the opportunity to celebrate their work within the community, this could be a way to lead strategic change in a school, while promoting the sector to the children as well as parents and carers through newsletters, in-school notice boards and events.
This way we can promote construction across more regular and sustained interventions over a longer period within schools.
Giving our schools more diverse and inclusive leadership at the top will drive change while also raising awareness of the construction sector among younger generations and those from diverse backgrounds.
Charlotte Thackeray is the outreach and inclusion lead at UCEM.