The CITB is the industry training board for the construction sector in England, Scotland, and Wales. It’s their job to help the construction industry attract talent, work with employers to create and fund opportunities and support skills development, to build a better Britain. It is funded through a levy on the construction sector and sponsored by the Department for Education.
The CITB has a values-based approach, seeking to act as a role model for good practice. ED&I training is mandatory for all CITB staff, as is training on Fairness Inclusion and Respect (FIR). The CITB’s commitment goes beyond compliance as the organisation wants to do everything it can to embed ED&I to support a more inclusive workforce within the sector.
We (construction) had skills shortages before Covid, The pandemic happened, and that skills shortage has increased, and will continue unless we recruit from a much broader talent pool. We need to change our behaviours and our practices, so it’s very much about looking at how we support that. There is good momentum and we need to keep pushing on to make sure ED&I is fully adopted across the board. The Construction Industry Training Board has to be a beacon of change. We can’t just say, ‘all we do is training’. We also have to influence in the right way and we are using our platform to show best practice.Stephen Cole, Senior Customer Engagement Manager, CITB
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The Journey so far
The CITB is introducing a programme of tasters and work experience activities that allow employers and the CITB to work together to enable learners to access and experience opportunities.
The London Construction Taster programme is introduced by a virtual taster with presentations and Q&As, followed by a second session providing learners with a structured workplace-based experience.
‘As the industry training board, we have to be a beacon of change. We can’t just say all we do is training. We also have the influence in the right way and we are using our platform as the industry training board to show best practice.’Stephen Cole, Senior Customer Engagement Manager
One of the benefits of this programme is that it enables those who don’t have the ‘social capital’ to gain knowledge of the industry. It provides visibility of opportunities such as apprenticeships, as it seeks to appeal to more young people. It’s strategy of visibility of the sector is crucial and the CITB actively promotes the industry within schools and at career events through its STEM Ambassador programme.
Challenges , Recruitment & Engagement
Negative perceptions about the industry can hamper efforts to attract and engage young people to work in the sector. CITB research highlighted some of the reasons why young people weren’t interested in a construction career, such as it being low skilled, low paid and low tech.
However, the evidence indicates the opposite; that there are many opportunities for career progression and high pay. The CITB wants to try to reshape that perception through its engagement strategy and through adopting a problem-solving approach to some of the challenges for employers and for people coming into the sector.
The recruitment process within the industry can present a challenge. The industry itself is used to recruiting or prefers recruiting informally which often does not lend itself to a diverse workforce.
The overall makeup of the industry, particularly on site and at management levels, tends to be White and male. So, continuing to hire informally is more likely to result in forms of affinity bias “by default, recruiting more of the same”.
One particular finding from a benchmarking exercise by Network Rail, TfL and others across the construction industry last year, was the number of times, compared to the broader population, someone from an ethnic minority background had to apply in order to get an interview – 49:1. However, once they reached the interview stage they performed well.
Historically, one of the main activities that has worked well in the CITB national network to attract people to the construction sector is the ‘Open Doors’ scheme, where employers open up their sites for a week and invite people in to find out more about the opportunities within the industry. However, it became clear that more headway could be made if there were engagement interventions and activities throughout the year.
The CITB recently supported the launch of the Fairness, Inclusion Respect Growth Assessment Tool, which brings together the existing BeFaIR accreditation with a streamlined self-assessment tool that all employers can engage with. The CITB will create an action plan based on the responses.
The CITB’s strategy funds projects around employability. The CITB works in partnership with CSF hubs and others to support confidence building, communication skills, emotional intelligence, the importance of reliability and work ethic.
The CITB has developed a digital portal called ‘Talent View’ which employers can use to advertise and promote their vacancies and other work opportunities.
An ‘Inclusive Recruitment’ course has been developed by the CITB to support employers to remove potential bias within their practices and to help them make their recruitment practice more inclusive.
The CITB supports the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) project, which is led by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, and delivered through an online portal, the Supply Chain Sustainability School. It’s a learning management system with a library of resources which are free for all members. The ambition is that people complete the courses, become FIR Ambassadors and over time, the sector will start to see positive shifts in recruitment practice, language and culture. One opportunity the CITB is progressing is to embed FIR into all of its standards. So, every person who comes into the industry at some point in the future will have access to learning and training in these areas.
Through the Construction STEM Ambassador Programme, Ambassadors act as advocates and attend schools and career events promoting the industry’s commitment to FIR. The CITB aims to develop this programme to incorporate a ‘role modelling’ approach. It is important for local communities and young people to identify with the people representing different sectors and careers, so that they can see themselves reflected in a wider range of subjects and careers that are open to them.
The CITB is part of the City of London’s Skills for a Sustainable Skyline Taskforce, which aims to ensure London’s commercial built environment has the skills it needs within the context of the green skills revolution, a significant skills shortage and a need for increased diversity. There is an opportunity for employers to get in touch with CITB to explore partnership working to co-create solutions to the challenges facing London’s construction skills landscape.
How to move forward
- Thinking differently about how the industry engages, recruits, and retains staff is a key step.
- Reach out to young people in secondary schools who are making career choices.
- Work with partners so there are agreed and shared communication channels to ensure that opportunities are visible and accessible to a wider audience.
- More and better collaboration, sharing existing resources and connecting employers who want to further their ED&I journey.
- Link up with creative initiatives and good practice guidance within the Inclusive Employers Toolkit
- Become a FIR Ambassador, become a Go Construct STEM Ambassador, join CITB’s ED&I group in London.
- Take part in the diversity benchmarking exercise and open your businesses and sites so that London’s under-represented groups can participate in meaningful work experience.