In its report on race discrimination in the building industry, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that ethnic minorities constitute 3.3 percent of the sector, despite making up 7.9 percent of the national workforce.
The prevalence of word-of-mouth recruitment, a lack of career progression and problems making the transition from training to work all contributed to the lower proportion of ethnic minorities joining the sector, the report found.
The research also found that that many ethnic minority respondents held a negative view of the construction industry. Just under half (47 per cent) believe that racist behaviour was likely to go unchecked within the industry and 40 per cent felt that the industry discriminates against ethnic minorities in its employment practices.
Commissioner Kay Allen said: "The level of ethnic minority representation across the industry must improve. To remain competitive and ensure that it has the right skills for the future it must invest in training and recruiting the best candidates from the widest possible pool of talent."
The commission is now calling on the construction industry to raise awareness of the career opportunities within the sector and to ensure that ethnic minority entrants to the industry are well supported through, for example, mentoring schemes.
Race Discrimination in the Construction Industry is available here