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Exploring the attitudes of school-age children, their parents and educators to career prospects in the Scottish construction industry

Agapiou, A. (2002) Exploring the attitudes of school-age children, their parents and educators to career prospects in the Scottish construction industry. Equal Opportunities International, 21 (8). pp. 18-29. ISSN 0261-0159

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Abstract

The UK construction industry has a particularly low participation rate for women, both for those employed in the industry and for those engaged in training. Equal opportunities present a challenge in the construction industry, one of the most male dominated industrial sectors. Much remains to be done to promote the construction industry to girls considering their options for careers when they leave school. This paper presents an empirical review of the attitudes of school-age girls, their parents and educators about career prospects in construction. Based on qualitative research, this study found that reservations held by girls, some parents, and teachers are to do with issues such as the physical nature of the work, the social dynamics of working in a male-dominated environment, and the availability of career paths on the completion of a apprenticeship training. There is a paucity of knowledge amongst parents about which occupations there are in the construction industry and the pathways that exist following apprenticeship training. This lack of knowledge contributes to this hesitation. Construction employers will therefore need to embrace strategies that broaden parents', peers' and career advisers' knowledge about available employment opportunities and help overcome attitudes that the industry is unsuitable for women. Strategies that embrace flexibility, information, exposure and options are key to increasing participation of women in construction in ever-larger numbers.