CITB NI and WOMEN’STEC hosted 60 female pupils plus their teachers from schools around Northern Ireland at a Girls into Construction event.
The event was strongly supported by the industry with around 10 companies and self-employed individuals involved including Gilbert-Ash Ltd, Graham-Bam Healthcare Partnership, Arup, Consarc, White Ink, Translink Infrastructure Department, and William & Henry Alexander (Civil Engineering) Limited.
During the event the girls were able to try a number of practical activities which included cabinet making, joinery, roofing, painting & decorating and tiling.
As well as the practical activities the girls attended sessions where they met and questioned architects, engineers, health and safety managers, community liaison managers, and project managers to get a better understanding of some of the professional roles within the industry and how these women entered the industry and what their experiences have been to date.
The main themes coming out of the sessions were that the construction industry offers a diverse and exciting career, the opportunity to travel, the opportunity to work on large flagship projects and a sense of achievement when they have been completed, no two days being the same and getting to work with a wide variety of people.
The wide range of jobs means that there is something for everyone, whether you like working indoors or outdoors, using your hands to create something or using a computer to design something.
The first keynote presentation was from Gilbert-Ash Ltd, highlighting how women in their organisation are involved in all aspects of a construction project. Ray Hutchinson, Managing Director of Gilbert-Ash Ltd says, “Our workforce is currently 21% female, well above the industry average of 11%, and we are continuing to work proactively to make sure that we always hire the best candidate for the job.”
The event concluded with presentations from Belfast Metropolitan College and Ulster University highlighting the different routes into a career in construction whether it be via an apprenticeship, foundation degree, HNC/D or degree route.
Lunch was sponsored by GRAHAM. Emer Murnaghan, GRAHAM Group Head of Business Improvement stated, “GRAHAM is committed to developing female role models who can encourage young women to build exciting and rewarding careers within the construction industry. We acknowledge the positive impact that a diverse workforce can make on sustaining a successful business – with diversity comes better innovation, with innovation comes resilience.”
The event was a huge success with the practical activities being a particular hit. Encouragingly feedback from the event suggests that a number of girls are now keen to pursue a career in the construction industry while others are giving it more consideration than they had previously.
CITB NI Chief Executive, Barry Neilson, said, “It is important that the construction industry in Northern Ireland has a wider pool of talent from which to recruit and that it recognises the benefits a diverse workforce can bring. We have an average annual recruitment requirement of 710 for the period 2017-2020, with skills shortages identified in a number of trades including bricklaying and wood trades.
“There are already many successful women working in the construction sector in a variety of capacities, and they are excellent role models for our future recruits. Hopefully this event will showcase the wide range of opportunities the industry offers to young women and we hope to see some of today’s pupils in the role of Ambassador at similar events in the future.”
Lynn Carvill, Chief Executive of WOMEN’STEC stated, “The ‘Girls into Construction’ event widens the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) agenda and through our female role models, we’re hoping to inspire girls to consider the wide range of career options open to them. We are passionate about diversifying the workforce and are delighted to have received such a resounding response from secondary and grammar schools who have wanted to attend the event.”
CITB NI has several booklets designed for those interested in working in the industry which are available to download from the careers section of the website including ‘A Future in Construction Careers Guide’ and ‘Women in Construction’ booklets: www.citbni.org.uk.