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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
Building industry targets women
A builder
Thousands of job vacancies for builders are unfilled
By the BBC business unit's Rebecca Pike

The construction industry is launching a recruitment drive for women builders - to help reduce the growing skills shortage.

Nearly 400,000 new builders will be needed over the next five years just to keep up with demand.

Building is one of the most macho trades known to man. But a serious shortage of builders has forced the industry to take radical measures.


About 20 years ago it would have been different, but now it doesn't matter whether you're a man or a woman

Bricklayer
Caz Westgate

That means tapping into the female population, many of whom are mothers wanting to return to work.

Caz Westgate is a bricklayer in Bedford - one of a tiny minority of women who do the heavy work.

While hundreds of thousands of others work in administration, she thinks it is now much easier for women to do a more hands-on job.

She told the BBC: "I just really enjoy brick-work, that's why I do it. Now there is no reason why you can't do it.

"About 20 years ago it would have been different, but now it doesn't matter whether you're a man or a woman - you'll still get a place at college."

Wolf-whistling

Colleges and training will be the focus of a two-day conference being held by the Construction Industries Training Board (CITB).

They want to encourage more women into training and see more women-only builders' training schools opened, like the one launched in Newcastle earlier this year.

Some firms, like the Simons Group in Lincoln, say they want women to make up half their workforce in 10 years' time.

But critics say the construction industry still needs to do to much more to change its image.

That includes waving goodbye to wolf-whistling and the infamous builders' bum.

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