I’m pleased that the launch of our new report, the Real Face of Construction 2020, went well. There is a real sense that making the case for the value of the construction industry in the UK and outlining the opportunities in each region could lead to better, more integrated planning and policymaking, both to support the industry and drive individual projects in different parts of the UK to support our society and our economy.
However, there were concerns raised over the use of data on earnings taken from Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. (Figure 4: Comparing full-time male annual earnings for construction employees with full-time male annual earnings in other sectors or all within regions).
The footnote states:
The reasoning for using this data was to reduce the distortion that would be created by gender pay gaps and the prevalence of part time workers.
The intention was not to ignore the importance of women and part-time workers in our industry. The aim was to provide an indicator that would not be challenged statistically on the grounds of ignoring the effect on earnings of variations in gender mix and variations in part-time working. Construction is more heavily male dominated than any other major industry and the gender mix in construction varies significantly between regions. The industry also has a lower proportion of part-time jobs than most other industry sectors. Not adjusting for these would have left the data used open to claims of bias.
This is not to diminish the issues the industry faces around gender. They are huge. I have spoken with the author about garnering a fuller picture to include women, part-time workers and any other sections of society. I will also ask the team to follow up with a more detailed blog piece to cover the reasoning in more detail and hopefully shine a light on some of the gaps in our data collection methods.