I am Professor of European Industrial Relations in the Westminster Business School (WBS) and responsible for a distinct programme of research in the Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment (ProBE), a joint research centre spanning WBS and the School of Architecture and Cities. I have a rather chequered biography, being originally educated as an art/architectural historian at the Courtauld Institute, University of London and then, inspired by Reyner Banham, going on to the Bartlett Faculty of Architecture and Planning, University College London (UCL) to complete a Master’s degree in Architectural Studies (1972) followed by a PhD (University of London 1984) in the area of social and economic history - published as Building Capitalism by Routledge (1992, reprinted 2012). I was for many years employed as a researcher in the Building Economics Research Unit (BERU) at UCL and then joined WBS, University of Westminster, in 1992, first as a researcher in the Education, Training and the Labour Market Research Group and then as a Reader. In WBS I supervise Masters dissertations and PhD students and till recently lead the International HRM module of the Masters in HRM.
My overriding interests concern labour, vocational education and training (VET), labour history, and industrial relations and over the years I have undertaking research – largely of a comparative nature - on skills, VET, qualifications, wage relations, social protection, oral labour history, diversity, gender, migration and labour organisation in a range of European countries, east and west, sponsored by, amongst others: ESRC and EPSRC; European Commission (EC); the French Ministère de l’equipement; Greater London Authority; the Joseph Rowntree Trust; Leverhulme Foundation; Norwegian Work Research Institute; Nuffield Foundation; the States of Jersey; Canadian Social Science and HumanitiesResearch Council (SSHRC); Canadian Building Trade Unions (CBTU); and different government Ministries. Much of this research has concerned the construction sector, about which I have particular expertise, and been undertaken in collaboration with social partners. Currently, I am preoccupied in ProBE with research on: a) building labour history, particularly focussed direct labour organisations; b) VET and low energy construction, including retrofitting; c) labour and climate transition; d) women in construction; and e) blacklisting in the construction sector. In 2022 I was awarded the VET Research Excellence award by the European Commission.
In addition to research I organise various seminars, events and conferences, including the regular seminars of the London branch of the British Universities' Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA) and occasional seminars of the BUIRA Industrial Relations History Study Group, of which I am co-organiser. I am on the Board of the European Centre for Construction Labour Research, a 500+ network with a regular Newsletter (CLR News). I am also: on the editorial board of the Construction History journal; Associate Director of the Canadian SSJRC programme 'Adapting Canadian Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change' - https://adaptingcanadianwork.ca based at York University, Toronto, Canada; member of the ESRC Review Panel; research proposal referee (e.g. ESRC, EPSRC); journal referee; expert to the European Commission Construction Social Dialogue Committee (the European Construction Industry Federation - FIEC and the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers - EFBWW) on Vocational Training; on the steering group of the Greener Jobs Alliance; and editorial committee member of London Hazards Magazine.
My current and recent research projects include:
Climate Literacy for Construction: Integrating climate literacy into the construction trades to prepare the construction workforce to better meet Canada’s climate change commitment, SkillPlan, Canadian Building Trade Unions, $4.2m, 2021-2025, part of Climate Industry and Research Team (CIRT) with responsibility for Europe, funded by Canadian government ‘Employment and Social Development Canada: Union Training and Innovation Fund’
Vocational Education and Training for Low Energy Construction, European Commission project led by European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) and European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), with 10 country partners (Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain), external expert (Prof. Linda Clarke, Dr. Colin Gleeson, Dr Melahat Sahin-Dikmen), January 2017-December 2018..
Housing and Labour: a pilot oral history of post-war council house building in England and Scotland, with Christine Wall, awarded as part of University Strategic Research Fund, Phase 3, began December 2017 to be completed July 2017
'Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective', Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant for $2,547,130.00 (plus a further $2.2 million in matching funding and contributions from partnering organizations), seven-year international research project, led by Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé, professor of work and labour studies in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, Toronto, awarded August 2014, with Professor Linda Clarke (WBS) and Dr Colin Gleeson (fABE) as co-applicants and including 38 individual members and 19 partners in four countries.
Architecture and Building Labour: using oral and visual evidence to enrich policy and practice in the built environment, with Christine Wall, awarded as part of University Strategic Research Fund, Phase 2, began January 2016, completed July 2016
Wage Analysis in Globalisation faced by Europe (WAGE), partner in proposal for a network, submitted by Prof Michel-Pierre Chelini, Artois University, November 2015 to March 2017
'Raising the bar’ for the representation of women in the construction workforce, Thames Tideway Tunnel (TTT) project, from September 2014 to February 2015, with University of Loughborough as subcontractor.
Blacklisting Claims, in response to: ‘Instructions to Experts’ (Professor Linda Clarke and Dr Ian Fitzgerald), issued by Thompsons Solicitors LLP for and on behalf of the Claimants Solicitors Steering Group, from November 2014.
Transparency for Upholstering and Cabinet Making Qualifications and Quality in the European Furniture Industry, European Commission Leonardo project, October 2012-September 2014, internal evaluator role.
European Commission Leonardo project with Dr Michaela Brockmann on apprenticeships in the retail sector in four European Countries, began October 2011 for 2 years.
Constructing post-war Britain: building workers' stories 1950-70, a Leverhulme project, jointly with Christine Wall, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, began August 2010, part of Britain at Work 1945-1995, an umbrella group promoting projects related to the oral histories of workers, for which a cooperation agreement has been signed by a range of institutions.
Study on the protection of workers' rights in subcontracting processes in the European Union, with Ian Fitzgerald, Northumbria University, European Commission project coordinated by Consortium Ghent University - University of Amsterdam, 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011.
Main scientific partner responsible for the scientific coordination of a 2-year, 8 country project for the European Commission entitled Bricklaying Qualifications, work and VET in Europe, completed December 2010.
Olympic Builders Film Project: community film project, coordinated by Marker Ltd in association with the European Institute for Construction Labour Research, Margaret Dickinson (film-maker), launched July 2012.
A European skills framework: cross-national equivalence of vocational qualifications- Nuffield Foundation, March 2006 to January 2009, jointly with Prof. Christopher Winch of Kings College London.
Disability and labour market participation in ICT, health and construction in Norway, Britain and the Netherlands- Norwegian Work Research Institute funded by Norwegian Research Council, June 2005 to January 2009.
Migrant Labour in Construction, a project coordinated by COMPAS, University of Oxford, for Home Office Migration Advisory Committee, with Prof. Andrew Dainty (Loughborough University) and Paul Chan (University of Northumbria).
Diversity in Construction, jointly with London Metropolitan University for Greater London Authority, June 2006 - December 2007, GLA report published and launched February 2007.
People in Construction, ESRC seminar series.