Challenges young people face entering the manual trades

May 19, 2022

The findings of research into challenges facing Black and minoritised young people entering the manual trades highlights that the image of the industry, poor careers information, advice and guidance, show a sector that is not diverse enough with regards to gender and race. These barriers make it a difficult career path for some, with some school’s reinforcing this impression through what some young people described as poor career advice, information and guidance opportunities.

The research was conducted by London-based charity, the Ubele Initiative, an African diaspora-led infrastructure organisation with funding from Youth Futures Foundation. The findings reflected views from interviews with close on 100 young people and professionals in the industry.

Patricia Chale, interim CEO, Youth Futures Foundation said:

“We fund and evaluate infrastructure organisations, like the Ubele Initiative, to support young people from marginalised backgrounds into good quality work. The construction and the manual trades sector can offer a good career path and the prospect of gaining respected qualifications. We hope the findings of this survey open conversations about opportunities in this sector and help to remove barriers for young people considering their career options.”

 The report authors, Karl Murray and Saphia Youssef, said:

“The research has revealed what many have been saying about the construction and manual trade industry as being an occupational sector dominated by men and white men in particular. Some of those challenges facing young people from Black and minoritised communities, especially young women, relate to cultural differences and ‘priorities’ within the home, informed by perception of what the ‘community’ might say. This may be more pronounced if status and priorities are given to academic excellence. It is therefore a wake-up call to both the industry and communities of how the sector is perceived.”

What are the main challenges and barriers Black and minoritised young people face when entering the manual trades?

Five recurring themes or challenges emerged from the interviews with participants:

  • Male dominated industry which is unwelcoming and unattractive to girls and young women. This lack of gender diversity was seen to be crucial and a barrier for women/girls getting involved. Asian female participants, in particular, mentioned that they were not attracted to manual trades due to cultural, beliefs and sexist concerns.
  • The need to earn quick income and being their own boss attracted many into the manual trade industry.
  • Parental/community attitudes within particular communities influenced whether young people entered the industry or not.
  • Poor and insufficient information and advice on the opportunities and pathways for entering the manual trade.
  • Racism and discriminatory attitudes within the building trade was a barrier for some Black and minoritised young people interested in the manual trade sector.

Read the report here www.ubele.org