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The future of the black and minority ethnic (BME) construction sector in England


  • Andy Steele
  • Stephen Todd


It is generally recognized that there is a lack of equality of opportunity for minority-led contractors and consultants (i.e. where at least 50 per cent of the workforce or ownership is from a minority group, such as women, disabled people or a black and minority ethnic community) to compete for work within the housing association sector. In response, the Housing Corporation, the government quango responsible for social housing in the UK, recently commissioned research to investigate the potential benefits of establishing a national database of such companies for the sector in England. The expectation was that such an initiative will help develop, support and promote black and minority ethnic (BME) companies and at the same time, redress the skills shortage in the construction industry. Recent funding cuts within the Housing Corporation now seriously undermine the future sustainability and development of this sector of the construction industry. This paper begins by providing an overview of the types of discrimination faced by BME contractors and consultants. This is set within the context of an unprecedented expansion in the construction sector but where restricted capacity among mainstream contractors due to skill and staff shortages is increasingly evident. The extent to which contractor registration databases have addressed these inequalities is then considered with particular reference to the largest of such contractor registration systems, Constructionline. Drawing on recent empirical work, the development requirements of such a database from the perspective of BME contractors and consultants is considered. The discussion also focuses on the future sustainability of BME small and medium enterprises. The commitment of social housing agencies to equality of opportunity will be crucial to the success of this sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Andy Steele & Stephen Todd, 2005. "The future of the black and minority ethnic (BME) construction sector in England," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(10), pages 1017-1023.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:23:y:2005:i:10:p:1017-1023
    DOI: 10.1080/01446190500372429

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