An event designed to engage and inspire young women to pursue apprenticeship opportunities in the built environment, construction and engineering sectors has been heralded as a huge success with more than 60 girls and their teachers from schools in Leeds and across West Yorkshire attending.
Organised jointly by WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) and Leeds College of Building and hosted at the First Direct Arena, Leeds, the ‘Building you Future’ event involved an interactive discovery workshop with 25 women who are currently working in technical roles on hand to talk about their careers in construction.
Brian Duffy, from Leeds College of Building, said:
“In the Construction sector alone, there are over 100 roles ranging from bricklayers and plumbers to design engineers and architects.
“Students can enter the industry at any level and progress to any level according to their personal ambition, capabilities and lifestyle.
“The highest level of qualification is the equivalent of a University degree and there are a wide range of high quality job opportunities available to apprentices.”
Fay Best from WISE said:
“In the UK today, government, employers and educators acknowledge the shortage of skilled technical professionals, with a projected requirement for over 100,000 new scientists, engineers and technologists every year to 2020.
“Women are significantly under-represented in engineering and technology careers and if this continues, the shortfall will be exacerbated and employers will struggle to fill vacancies with British talent for years to come.
“Yet, there is no reason why women shouldn’t build successful careers in technical disciplines and events like this one will no doubt inspire them to do so.”
Recent research of 18 to 34 year olds carried out by City & Guilds Group showed that young men are twice as likely to be encouraged to take a technical apprenticeship as young women.
In the construction industry in particular only 0.6 per cent of women were encouraged to make it their career compared to 12 per cent of men.
Janet Beckett, a building services consultant with Carbon Saver UK, said:
“Meeting all the incredibly bright and enthusiastic students and challenging their perceptions was a real joy.
“Women are woefully underrepresented in my field of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and building services design, at around just three per cent.
“I believe much of this is due to media stereotypes and lack of engagement with science, technology, engineering and mathematics in schools which really ought to begin at primary school. It is such a shame as women make great engineers!”
Amy Parker, a maintenance scheme producer with A-One, who maintain parts of the motorway network, said:
“Technical apprenticeships result in lots of job opportunities, the chance to earn while you learn and avoid a student loan, provide a valuable qualification and, once training is complete, the apprentices benefit from having practical experience of the job.”
The female role models came from different companies and represented a broad range of options.
Some had started work as apprentices, others had been to university and some were still completing their education, whilst others had been working in construction related roles for some time.
WISE has been working for 30 years to support education and industry in the UK to attract more women and girls into rewarding and exciting STEM study and careers.
Its mission is to push the presence of female employees from 13 per cent across science, technology, engineering and mathematics to a critical mass of 30 per cent by the year 2020.
The event was sponsored by major UK employers including A-One, Atkins, CECA, InCommunities and NG Bailey.