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Client-led approaches to increasing participation of women and ethnic minorities in the construction workforce: a framework for change

Agapiou, A. (2003) Client-led approaches to increasing participation of women and ethnic minorities in the construction workforce: a framework for change. Journal of Construction Procurement, 9 (2). pp. 4-16. ISSN 1358-9180

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The UK construction industry has recently recognised the importance of client influence in driving the industry's performance improvement agenda as embodied within the Rethinking Construction report (Egan, 1998). Notably, the industry's Strategic Forum (2002) has recently advocated client led change to ensure better value and more efficient operation within the industry through its Accelerating Change report. However, a serious delimitation on the industry maintaining the continuous improvement agenda is its apparent inability to diversify its workforce, which in turn threatens its ability to cope with the onset of skills shortages. Currently, the industry's labour force composition is overwhelmingly white male and it has made little inroads to improving this situation, despite consistent calls to address the issue. This position paper posits that it would be opportune for the sector to integrate the current drive for client-led change with the need for workforce diversification, particularly given the recently announced increase in public sector spending about to impact on the industry's new orders and output growth. A framework of recommendations is put forward for achieving social inclusion through client-led procurement practices which are closely aligned with the Government's emphasis on achieving best value and the concept of Jobs and Training Agreements.