Building a New Perspective: Women in Construction

The number of women working in the construction industry is on the rise with misconceptions about gender specific roles gradually diminishing.

The industry has a reputation of being ‘male dominated’, but times are changing. According to Go Construct, around 14% of construction industry professionals are women and Randstad insist that this number set to rise by more than a quarter (26%) by 2020.

But is this trend being backed up in education? Currently only 5% of construction places at Preston’s College are being occupied by females. So, is there a barrier for young women wanting to study construction in college?

We caught up with Level 3 Professional Construction apprentice, Nichola Sharples, about why she chose to pursue a career in a traditionally considered male environment.

Discussing the importance of breaking industry stereotypes,Nichola Sharples - Women in construction Nichola said: “I really enjoy working in the construction industry and it’s frustrating to think that it is still thought about as a male-only career option.

“From my experience, this misconception isn’t a true representation of the workforce – I work alongside a lot of highly skilled men and women, neither should be unrepresented for their talents.

“Times have changed and it’s time to eradicate gender misconceptions surrounding the construction industry as it presents a wealth of opportunities for women too.”

Originally achieving her A-Levels at Ripley St. Thomas High School in Lancaster, Nichola considered progressing onto University, but the academic style of teaching didn’t best suit the practical ways she enjoyed learning.

Instead, Nichola swapped the lecture theatre for the construction site, taking a Technical Apprentice role with Carnforth based building and civil engineering company Colin Briscoe Construction.

Nichola continued: “I’m glad I chose the Apprenticeship route as I am a much more practical learner and enjoy gaining skills on the job.

“In my current role as Technical Apprentice, I learn alongside site managers who show me how projects are completed from start to finish.

“I also go on site visits, learn about the administrative aspects of the role and gain valuable experience from my colleagues.”

Whilst in work, Nichola will gain her qualifications alongside gaining skills on-site, learning in the classroom one day per week with the following four days in the workplace.

Mark Taylor, Head of School for Construction & the Built Environment at Preston’s College, added: “Year on year we’ve seen an increase in young women enrolling onto our construction courses.

“At Preston’s College, we encourage young people to study whichever subject they are passionate about and gender should not hinder them in any way.

“As a construction department, we aim to diminish the stigma attached to the industry and showcase the brilliant work of both our female and male learners, who are both equally talented, enthusiastic and determined to pursue a career in construction.”

Preston’s College offers construction courses ranging from Level 1 to HNC.

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