Officially launched on 9 May 2018, by the Mayor of London at the Tideway site - Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey, the Workforce Integration Network [WIN] initiative will cover an array of sectors, with the core objective being social mobility for under-represented groups across London. The keynote was delivered by Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard.
On Monday 15 April 2019, taking place at the London ‘home of engineering’ i.e. the Institution of Civil Engineers located just off Parliament Square, the first official Jobs Fair was held in full support and recognition of the compelling and well documented business case for young black men. The entire event was geared towards creating access to key employers in the construction industry for young people aged between 16 and 24years of age.
Central to this unique offer was the well documented challenge(s) experienced by young black men when entering and/or navigating the London jobs market.
The welcome address was delivered by DCS Founder & Chair Bola Abisogun OBE, FRICS who shared some perspective based on his own experiences and further extended and applied that contrast with clear sight of the emerging potential, proffered by Sadiq Khan’s pledge of unfailing assistance, the first by a democratically elected London Mayor. The full presentation can be seen here.
Under-representation in the workplace is caused by a range of factors including discrimination, skills mismatch, and both a lack of qualifications and peer-to-peer networks. For this to change, employers must be more aware of the problem(s) and do whatever they can do to address it.
Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, thanked Bola for his rousing and inspirational opening and further commented that “it was so important for those young men to see you standing there, sharing your story of success but also reflecting on your journey. So necessary for them to see that it’s possible”.
Research shows that Londoners’ sense of belonging is tied to their ability to access economic opportunities, particularly good work and career opportunities. The workplace is also a setting in which people from different backgrounds can meet and form positive working relationships. When some groups are excluded, these opportunities for building social integration are missed.
All of us: The Mayor’s strategy for social integration
Social integration is about how we all live together. It is the extent to which people positively interact and connect with others from different backgrounds. It is shaped by the level of equality between people, the nature of our relationships, and our levels of community participation.
Improving London’s social integration is one of the Mayor’s top priorities and he describes it as one of the 21st century’s biggest challenges.
Improving social integration means helping Londoners to build meaningful and lasting relationships with each other.
It involves supporting them to be active in their communities and to play a part in the decisions that affect them. It also means reducing barriers and inequalities, so that Londoners can relate to each other as equals.
There is not going to be a quick fix to the issue of social inequality, but if we treat it with the seriousness it deserves, we can make a real difference. This will create stronger communities and will give us a renewed sense that we are united as neighbours and as Londoners.
The Mayor’s work on social integration has four parts:
relationships – promoting shared experiences
participation – supporting Londoners to be active citizens
equality – tackling barriers and inequalities
evidence – gathering evidence to measure and evaluate the state of social integration in London
The event was substantially over-subscribed by well over 200 young people who, rather regrettably, had to assume their position on a waiting list that simply continued to grow. However, there were over 150 young people, at the event on the day all seeking a fresh start to their career or a new job opportunity with the Employers in the room.
Rommell Wallace, WIN Coordinator for the GLA went on to say ““I’m very proud to have been able to organise an event the successfully connected leading businesses in the construction sector with enthusiastic and passionate young black men, keen to access opportunities to progress within the sector. I look forward to continuing to encourage and facilitate the construction sector to improve their diversity by supporting under-represented young people to better access the wide range of amazing opportunities available in the industry, both through the Mayor’s Workforce Integration Network (WIN) with the GLA and the ‘Construkt’ programme designed and delivered by my social enterprise, Serious About Youth (SAY).”
Ayo Adewumi, a Civil Engineering Student at Imperial College in London also commented to Bola “Thank you very much for your talk at the WIN Construction Jobs Fair. Inspired and determined to make the most of opportunities like yesterday!”
The WIN initiative will continue to work with employers to address the challenges of improving representation in the workplace. All that is required – from both parties – is a commitment to engage with the WIN programme.
Future events will be posted on the Mayor of London’s website, see here