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27 July 2007

New Skills Minister visits refurbishment site to see diversity in practice

David Lammy, the newly appointed Skills Minister, visited a Kier Building Maintenance site yesterday to see diverse recruitment in practice.

The visit was held as part of the wider promotion of ‘Women & Work’ – a Government-funded programme aimed at testing new recruitment and career opportunities for 10,000 women over two years in sectors where there are skills gaps and where women are under-represented. ConstructionSkills was one of the first organisations to secure funding for its Women & Work proposal.

As part of the programme, ConstructionSkills is supporting the development of 10 women through Islington-based Kier Building Maintenance. They include Administrators, Apprentice Plumbers and Surveyors, and are benefiting from the Women & Work programme through detailed individual training and development programmes to help increase their skills. David Lammy spent time at the site discussing how the women entered construction and how they were progressing.

ConstructionSkills is working with a wide number of employers on Women & Work, providing matched funding to a number of development activities including:

§ Training towards NVQ accreditation and CSCS certification

§ Health and Safety Training to Administrative staff

§ Technical training e.g. CIOB Site Management to cleaning and other support services supervisors to offer a way into supervision

§ Development for professional staff such as surveyors

§ Mentoring support to Graduates to secure sustainable employment opportunities.

Paul Sykes, Head of Recruitment and Careers at ConstructionSkills explained: “The funding enables us to invest in a really wide range of entry and progression routes for women in the industry. It is helping us to place new apprentices, to move women on from administrative roles in construction companies, and to provide managerial training for women already well established in the industry. Kier Building Maintenance is a great example of where diversity is really working in practice, delivering bottom line business benefits and providing first-class services to their customers.”

Adrian Fisher, Head of Human Resources and Development, Kier Building Maintenance (South) said: “The Women into Work programme has allowed us to re-concentrate our efforts on the development of our female staff in a focussed and methodical way. The funding that we have been able to obtain through the programme has allowed us to invest in greater levels of training.

“Kier Building Maintenance is committed to the development and career progression of its staff and we have a proud history of targeting our development initiatives towards traditionally underrepresented groups, including female trade apprentices and our award winning First Start programme.”

David Lammy MP said: “We are investing £10m to address the skills gender imbalance. It's about getting a better deal for women and for all of us, as this has the potential to bring a greater rate of return to our economy and to our society as a whole.”

Karren Brady, boss of newly promoted Premiership League Club Birmingham FC and the most high profile woman in English football, joined the national call for women to take up the challenge.

She said: “It is crucial that we challenge traditional perceptions and break down the barriers to women advancing in non-traditional roles. According to research* two thirds of women work in only 12 occupational areas – mainly cleaning, catering, clerical, retail, caring and first level management. But women are the hidden asset in ambitious companies looking to increase productivity. Working with Sector Skills Councils to unlock the potential of women in the labour market could be worth between £15 and £23 billion to the UK economy. Initiatives such as Women & Work are much needed to ensure that women progress through the ranks.”

    - ends -

Notes to editors

For further information please contact Jenny Rushforth, ConstructionSkills on:

020 7367 9817 or

ConstructionSkills

ConstructionSkills is the Sector Skills Council working to deliver a safe, professional and fully qualified construction workforce. ConstructionSkills, CIC and CITB (NI) work in partnership as the Sector Skills Council for construction. ConstructionSkills is tasked by the Government to implement UK-wide Sectors Skills Agreements between the bodies responsible for delivering training in the UK and those that demand it. It provides assistance in all aspects of training, recruiting and qualifying the construction workforce, and works with partners in industry and the Government to improve the competitiveness of the industry.

ConstructionSkills was one of the first SSCs to secure funding for its Women & Work proposal.

About Women & Work

§ The project will test new recruitment and career pathways for up to 10,000 women in sectors where there are skills shortages and where women are under-represented.

§ The project has a two year life-span and will end on 31 March 2008. An evaluation report will be published in September 2008.

Government background

As Chancellor Gordon Brown announced a package of measures to address employment issues for women as part of the government’s response to the Women and Work Commission’s report ‘Shaping a Fairer Future’ published in February 2006. As Prime Minister he sees the challenge to improve economically valuable skills as a top priority, as identified by the Leitch Review of Skills in which the strategic role of the employer-led Sector Skills Councils is stressed.

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