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Annie Hayes

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Diversity fuels economy

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A lack of diversity in work and training is damaging Britain’s economy, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) told a conference on Friday.

Research by the EOC, due to be released later this month, found a clear link between skills shortages in sectors such as plumbing, construction, and engineering and the under-representation of women.

EOC research also shows that 70% of employers thought atypical recruits could bring positive benefits to their business.

Speaking at the conference in advance of the launch of the final report from the EOC’s investigation into sex segregation, Caroline Slocock, chief executive of the Commission, said “Our investigation has found a direct link between sectors where jobs are mostly filled by men and serious skills shortages and this is damaging the economy. It’s bad for women too: Three fifths of women are working in one of just four occupational groups – all of which tend to attract low pay.”

Those who attended the Daring To Be Different: diversity in training and work conference heard from businesses that have increased the diversity of their workforce.

Trevor Jee, regional director at Bramall Construction, one of the employers speaking at the conference, said of his businesses success.

“Our initiatives to ensure our workforce is representative of the local community are starting to meet with success, particularly at Rochdale where women and members of the Asian community have been trained and incorporated into the site team. Site managers are full of praise for their female and Asian workers many of whom have been the subject of particular requests or thanks from residents, particularly the elderly, for work on their home.”

The conference was arranged by the EOC, Apprenticeships Task Force and CITB-Construction Skills.

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Annie Hayes

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