Construction SMEs tackle the demographic challenge: more women and young people in construction

Geneva, 19 June 2015 – The European Builders Confederation organised its 2015 Annual Congress on 18 -19 June 2015 in Geneva with its Swiss Member, the Geneva Federation of Building Trades (FMB).
The Congress provided a unique opportunity for 80 delegates from Switzerland and all around Europe to address the issue of inclusion of women and young people in construction trades. The conference resulted in some conclusions and an engagement from EBC’s members to work towards a more inclusive sector.
Patrick Liébus, President of the European Builders Confederation (EBC) said “In Europe, there’s a chronic under-representation of women. The construction sector employs 15 million workers. 90% of these people are men. We have to fight the stereotypes and cultural obstacles which suggest that women are not strong enough to work in our sector.
On the contrary, today tasks in construction are more mechanical and handling machines are more adaptable thus making the sector more accessible. Without a diversified and qualified active population in construction, our sector cannot thoroughly develop. This issue is very close to my heart and I really want to emphasise that our profession can be carried out by both men and women in exactly the same way!”
Patrick Liébus continued “Along with the lack of women, our sector is also facing a demographic challenge. Today, we see that the active population is starting to get older and young people are struggling to take their place. Switzerland represents a very positive example for apprenticeship schemes. 70% of young people there start their career with an apprenticeship. The result is that in this country young unemployment is very low and has the same level as adults’ unemployment.
Many times university seems to be the only viable option for many talented young people to pursue a good career. We have to show them that this is no longer true and that our sector offers many interesting opportunities which are completely disregarded”.
Patrick Liébus concluded “In order to unleash the potential of our sector it is essential that women and young people are included in the construction trades. A key element to our campaign will be improving the attractiveness of our sector and developing the skills of young people through apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
To this end, we have presented a project to increase the participation of women in construction. We have also committed to bring the topic in the European sectoral social dialogue committee, while keeping the topic high on the agenda of our own Board of Directors.
Finally, EBC has also signed an apprenticeship pledge in the context of the European Alliance for Apprenticeship to improve the supply, the quality, the image and the mobility of apprenticeship.
Today I’m pleased to see that we are taking a great step towards making the sector more inclusive”.