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Mayor launches construction race equality campaign

10 May 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

Construction will be at the forefront of a new scheme from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, aimed at tackling the unemployment levels of young black men in the capital.

Black men aged 16-24 are among some of the most likely to be unemployed in the capital – 32% compared to 14% for young white men.

In construction, black men aged 16-24 make up just 8% of young men working in the construction sector, compared to 83.5% for white men, City Hall said.

While Khan’s new initiative, called the Workforce Integration Network, will initially focused on supporting young black men into employment in the construction and digital sectors, over time the new approach will offer additional support to Londoners from a range of backgrounds.   

Construction has been chosen as one of the sectors to be targeted not only because of the low proportion of young black men working in the industry, but also because the sector accounts for 5% of total jobs in the capital, with the city’s total construction output expected to rise by an annual average of 2.4% between 2017 and 2021.

Rather than just focusing on ‘skilling up’ young black men, Khan, who launched the initiative in Southwark today at Tideway – the organisation responsible for delivering the Thames Tideway Tunnel – is also calling on businesses to attract and retain the brightest talent from all backgrounds, and to ensure they are actively addressing any current gaps in their workforce.

City Hall will work with employers and partner organisations, such as Moving On Up — a partnership between The Trust for London, City Bridge Trust, and the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) — to remove barriers and support more young black men into the construction and digital sectors. 

Employers will be encouraged to increase representation by properly signposting vacancies to Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) applicants and running campaigns specifically focused on recruiting young black men.

They will also be encouraged to develop traineeship programmes, work placements and in-work mentoring.

And City Hall will also establish a network of BAME ‘peer ambassadors’ – role models who will inspire and encourage young BAME Londoners to pursue careers in key sectors.

Khan, said: “London is the greatest city in the world, but too often we still see huge inequalities as a result of race and economic background. I am proud today to launch the Workforce Integration Network which will take important steps to help tackle the systemic bias which leaves too many talented young black men missing out on the opportunities London offers.”

Matthew Ryder, QC, deputy mayor for social integration, social mobility and community engagement, said: “There is a wealth of opportunity for young Londoners to thrive in the construction and digital sectors in London. But it is vital that all Londoners have access to those opportunities.

“Our evidence suggests that there is a particular need to focus attention on helping young black men into employment and ensuring they are not locked out of these great opportunities. However, we want to make sure that as this programme develops we are extending its reach to other groups who need similar support.”

Andy Mitchell, CEO, Tideway, said: “As an industry, we must reduce barriers that affect certain groups and inequalities that affect all Londoners. And those of who work in construction and engineering, know that those barriers can be very real.

“For our city to grow and its businesses to succeed, we need to have access to the best talent across the capital. This is why I am delighted that Tideway, as a major London employer committed to championing this issue, will be joining the Mayor’s network.”

Comments

Surely it would be better to focus on identifying those will an interest / potential to work within the Construction Industry - regardless of race / ethnicity. I dare say that the Mayor's pushing this more from a Political angle! I wonder at times if the people who come up with so-called "good ideas" / initiatives have ever stopped to consider that no everyone is interested / wanting to take-up a career in the Construction Industry (especially as there are so many other career paths on offer these days). Ideas / schemes such as this are similar to schemes (such as quotas / targets in the Police, Fire Service etc.), and in my view can lead to more division, and cause more friction. Call me old fashioned here, however why not identify / Train / Employ those who are best suited for the job (regardless of their race / ethnic background!!!)

Duncan Stewart MCIAT, 10 May 2018

Rather than jumping on every PC bandwagon comes along, the construction industry needs to offer real opportunities to young people.

It was once possible to start as a site a labourer, or some other such low status role, and go into a trade or work your way up to be a site manager or contract manager. I imagine such a route is near impossible now?

This notion that there is some kind of prejudice against employing young black men goes against my 30 years of experience where I have seen virtually none.

Darren, 12 May 2018

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