Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Ethnicity, education and the transition to the construction labour market : developing an equality framework using a capability approach
Author: Holborough, Aletha M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 3661
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The purpose of this research is to explain why and how the construction industry remains such a 'white male dominated' industry and those from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background are so severely underrepresented. The research focuses 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. This study looked at two groups of electrical trainees - apprentices and non-apprentices - in London, between January 2011 and July 2013, to understand why some succeeded in securing an apprenticeship while others did not. The research took an ethnographic approach and subsequently a range of data collection methods were used, which included a film, observation of events associated with the construction industry, a short questionnaire completed by 321 trainees, and in-depth interviews with 37 of these trainees. Interviews were also conducted with 40 organisations within the construction and electrical contracting industries. A mixed method approach, with a thematic analysis, was used to examine the vast amount of data collected for the research. The analysis of the data focused on the voices of the electrical trainees centring on three stages: 'in school', 'in college' and 'in work-based learning'. This approach provided rich data of the experiences of the electrical trainees in the transition process, in addition to setting the research context in its natural setting. The findings presented help to compensate for the paucity of research focused on the lived experiences of those going through the transition from school to the construction industry. Furthermore, the data collected provide a better understanding of how large-scale construction projects, such as the 2012 Olympic site, could further address diversity targets, dependent upon processes followed. The findings identify the multiple barriers faced by BAMEs during the 'school-to-work' transition process. The main research finding is that whilst ethnicity is an important factor in the transition process, other factors, identifiable at each of the three stages of the transition, also play a role. At the first stage of the transition process, which examined the school setting, the research found that inequality occurred as a result of differences in educational outcome, in the form of GCSEs, which had an impact on the next stage of the transition process. At college, there were differences in the electrical courses that the trainees embarked on, a result not only of the GCSE qualification obtained at school, but also of the different recruitment practices of the colleges and the contractors. At the work-based learning stage, those from a BAME background were more likely to have A-Levels, when embarking upon an apprenticeship, implying that they were more qualified in terms of academic qualifications than their white counterparts. The research also found that apprentices were treated differently, irrespective of ethnic background, whether because of being a woman, having ginger hair or coming from a different area. This shows that inequality is not just a result of an individual's ethnic background, but also of a multitude of different factors. An important original contribution is the conceptual framework of the thesis, based upon the Amartya Sen capability approach (Sen, 2009) and used to explore different dimensions of inequality. The capability approach has not previously been used to explore simultaneously a staged process over time, the 'school-to-work' transition, and to study the construction industry. Sen's capability approach provides the framework to examine areas that are not normally discussed in the school-to-work transition literature. The study found that the environment external to the college had an impact on the trainees in terms of their ability to move freely from place to place, so restricting possible education and employment opportunities. The research has yielded an equality framework and also identifies the two main transition routes for electrical trainees suggesting possible intervention points. These 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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available