London's the venue for the Construction Youth Trusts Diversity Strategic Group. The 5.30am start leaves me on that fine line between wanting to make the most effective use of my time and being grumpy.
Early exchanges in the meeting focus on the problem - the construction industry has a White, male, ageing workforce and the demographics suggest that the normal recruitment base is diminishing dramatically, with half a million less 16 to 18 year olds come 2017. So the problem of lack of opportunity for females and black and minority ethnic workers in the industry is not just a moral issue any more but also a crucial one in the future battle for employees.
The current economic climate adds to the problem in the industry with reports of 1,000 apprentices being made redundant this year. A useful dialogue takes place around the table with those present sharing their own experiences of prejudice, ignorance and intolerance.
My grouchiness makes me interject and suggest some terms of reference to start seeking solutions:
How do we promote the industry as a career to the new target audience?
How do we change the image of the industry amongst this audience?
How do we change workplace practices?
How do industry clients use their purchasing power to encourage better practice from contractors?
How do we measure progress?
Not exactly easy to achieve knowing the construction industry as well as I do, however small acorns and all that.....