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Purpose ‐ As a backdrop to the empirical contributions contained within this special section, this Guest Editorial aims to review the context of construction employment. It summarises the challenges inherent in construction work which have impeded the development of human
resource management within the sector and discusses the mutually supporting contributions of the papers in furthering our understanding of how to improve the performance of the industry. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The operational context of the sector is reviewed briefly,
before the efficacy of the industry's employment practices are examined through a review of the contributions contained within the special section. Findings ‐ The papers reveal the interplay of structural and cultural factors which have led to the skills shortages currently impeding
the industry's development. There is a need for the sector to modernise and formalise its working and employment practices if performance and productivity improvements are to be achieved. Originality/value ‐ By revealing the interconnected nature of the construction employment
perspectives presented within this special section, this paper presents a case for adopting a fresh transdisciplinary research agenda for addressing the industry's employment concerns.