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New Programme launches to Tackle The Underemployment of Young Black Men in London

Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice, Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard

The Equal Group and City Hall extend the Greater London Authority (GLA) Workforce Integration Network (WIN) Design Labs aimed at tackling the underemployment of young Black men in London. 

With the construction and infrastructure sector earmarked as being key to the nation’s economic recovery, City Hall has announced an extension to their Workforce Integration Network Design Labs programme. As part of the extension, nine more companies have joined a second cohort. The Design Labs programme was created as a response to the underrepresentation of young Black men in these sectors across the capital and is being delivered in partnership with equality, diversity and inclusion experts The Equal Group. 

Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice, Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard said:

“London’s strength is its diversity and, as we build back better from the pandemic, we need to create and embrace opportunities to broaden and diversify our city’s workforce. I’m really pleased that nine additional companies have now signed up to the Workforce Integration Network Design Labs. The Mayor and I are committed to creating a fairer, more equal society for all Londoners and this City Hall-funded programme, with a specific initial focus on young Black men and delivered in partnership with The Equal Group, equips organisations and companies with the skills and knowledge needed to instigate positive and lasting change.” 

The Equal Group will be hosting an online launch event for Cohort 2 of the Design Labs programme on 22nd June 2021, with participants including Ground Control, McGinley Support Services, Skanska, Kier, Morrison Water Services, ISG, Jacobs Engineering Group, Affinity Water, and Northumbrian Water Limited. A key focus of the programme is helping organisations to create a detailed data-driven action plan, with executive commitment, to transform outcomes for young Black men. Senior executives from all participating organisations have set out their intentions to collect and monitor data over the long term while using this data to identify areas of priority for intervention, as well as subsequently measuring the impact of these interventions.  

Cohort 1 of the Design Labs launched in January 2021 with participants including Balfour Beatty, SGN, J Murphy & Sons Ltd, Wates Ltd, UK Power Networks, Mott MacDonald, Ferrovial Construction, Laing O’Rourke, Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra, Thames Water, and Hyperoptic, who will be participating in a recruitment drive over the summer aimed at matching young Black men with vacancies within the construction and infrastructure sector.  

As part of the first cohort of the WIN Design Labs, The Equal Group has delivered a series of sessions for construction and infrastructure organisations to identify and understand the barriers to the recruitment and retention of young Black men. In addition to understanding the barriers, sessions have focused on collaboration and providing participant organisations with the opportunity to learn from one another and implement long term change.  

This programme comes as young Black men have some of the highest unemployment rates in London – 33%, compared to 15 % White men. The Workforce Integration Network of the Greater London Authority aims to create a more socially integrated city by breaking down the inequalities London citizens face in their everyday lives. The extension to the WIN Design Labs programme provides an opportunity to increase the impact of the programme and ensure that significant change is achieved across such a vital sector.  

In March 2021, at the London Recovery Summit, Sadiq Khan outlined a package of measures worth £544m to kick-start London’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, with the construction and infrastructure sector seen as key to creating jobs for young people and those from BAME backgrounds. The extension of the WIN Design Labs programme presents the perfect opportunity to maximise the impact of Covid 19 recovery plans across the capital and beyond.  

Mac Alonge, CEO of The Equal Group said: 

“This is a great opportunity to further our great relationship with City Hall and specifically the WIN team. Both parties have a desire to see a more inclusive capital with equal access to opportunities going forward. This partnership builds on the extensive work that we’ve done in the energy and utilities sector to date. We are looking forward to engaging with a new cohort of organisations committed to making a tangible and sustainable impact on the shape of the construction and infrastructure sector.” 

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