This week Pembrokeshire College are celebrating gender equality across their construction courses ahead of International Women’s Day.
Women make up around 15% of the Construction Industry within the UK according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Numbers across the industry are set to rise further with misconceptions about gender related roles noticeably diminishing across the board.
Inspiring other females into the industry, sisters Iona and Isabella Lake-Jerome have been keen to advocate the positives of working in the industry and to end the stigma about females working in the construction trades.
Iona is currently studying Foundation Electrical and Plumbing and sibling Isabella has progressed from Level 1 Constructions Skills to Level 2 Brickwork.
Isabella explained about her journey so far: “I went into bricklaying because I wanted to work on heritage buildings and become a stone mason.”
Iona and Isabella come from a family who have worked within the construction trade and felt inspired to follow in the steps of their older sister Tara, a former welding learner at Pembrokeshire College.
Isabella added: “I find being a woman in a male dominated industry to be quite pleasing. I find staff and employers are all so very supportive. I am treated as an equal which is great. My advice to other females looking to join the industry is you can do anything when you put your mind to it and prove your worth.”
Sister Iona aspires to one day work with sustainable architecture.
Iona said, “I have always wanted to be an electrician and wanted to prove that females can do just as good a job as male electricians can. I find being a woman in a male dominated industry quite rewarding. The advice I would give to the other females who would like to join any trade is not to be shy, get out there and show others that females can get the job done just as good as males, if not better sometimes. End the stigma that surrounds females working in the industry. It’s about your skillset not your gender and that is all that matters.”
Libby Montgomery a Level 2 Plumbing Apprentice has secured an apprenticeship with The ATEB group.
“I decided to join the construction industry due to me not being a stereotypical female. People don’t expect to see me walking into their house to fix their sink or radiators however, everyone is pleasantly surprised to see a female in the industry. In the future I’d like to be a fully qualified gas/oil engineer possibly with my own business helping other females who are wanting to join the industry. The best advice I have for females looking to join the industry is although it is a male dominated industry it doesn’t have to be so go for it don’t let that hold you back. My employer has been extremely supportive and allowed me an amazing opportunity to get out into industry.”
Fellow construction learner Tara Andrews is studying carpentry and is one of three females on her course. She is also passionate about getting more females into the construction industry.
Tara who recently competed in the Skills Wales Competitions for Carpentry said, “I choose to study at Pembrokeshire College because I’ve heard lots of great things. Whilst studying the Carpentry course I do feel like I’m treated equally from tutors and the students, and I am really enjoying it. The course has opened so many opportunities for me and if anything, it has given me confidence. I am excited for what is in store next!”
Tara is looking to enrol on an apprenticeship after her course.
Over the course of a five-year period females who have enrolled onto the construction courses at the College has almost doubled from 2.9% in 2018/19 to 5.7% in 2022/23.
Head of Faculty Wendy Weber said, “It does seem then that gender equality in the UK has come a long way over the last century; however, we’ve still got a long way to go.”
“It is important to spread the word that working in construction is not just for men. More and more women are picking up a sledgehammer, breaking down barriers, some are going to university, and all are smashing gender stereotypes. If we have any hope of overcoming the massive skills shortage the UK industry is faced with, it will become ever more crucial to encourage women to choose a career in construction.”
Find out more about our construction courses