Research by PhD student aims to develop equality framework for workers in construction industry

28 September 2015

We are pleased to announce that Aletha Holborough, a PhD student in ProBE and based in the Human Resource Management Department has successfully met the examiners’ requirements for award of a PhD.

Aletha’s research sought to explain why and how the construction industry remains such a "white male dominated" sector and those from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are severely underrepresented. The research has focused on the "school-to-work" transition process, examining electrical trainees’ experiences in their previous schooling, college and apprenticeships to understand how inequality permeates the process.

An important original contribution is the conceptual framework of the thesis, based upon the Amartya Sen capability approach and used to explore different dimensions of inequality.

The study

Aletha’s research examined two groups of electrical trainees: apprentices and non-apprentices, in order to understand why some succeeded in securing an apprenticeship while others did not. The research took an ethnographic approach and used a range of data collection methods.

Research findings

The main research finding is that, whilst ethnicity is important in the transition process, other factors, which are identifiable at each of the three stages of the transition, also play a role. Furthermore, the data collected provide a better understanding of how large-scale construction projects, such as the 2012 Olympic site, can further address diversity targets, dependent upon processes followed.

The research has resulted in an equality framework which identifies the two main transition routes for electrical trainees and suggesting possible intervention points. These outcomes can be used in future academic research and as practical tools in the construction industry to inform policy approaches to enhance diversity in both vocational education and training, and employment.

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