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Women building new careers in construction during COVID-19 pandemic

22 October 2020

Women looking for work during the coronavirus pandemic have told how a training programme has helped them secure new careers in the construction industry. Fifteen women have been trained by CCCT, undertaking work placements this month as part of the programme run by Women into Construction, in partnership with Henry Construction and The Guinness Partnership.

According to Women into Construction, just 13 per cent of workers in the construction industry are women and less than one per cent of those are working in the trades – such as bricklaying, electrical work, carpentry, plumbing, surveying, roofing and plastering.

The five-week programme provides participants with help to gain jobs in the industry, both on site and in the office. It includes 10 days’ training followed by a two-week industry placement with advice and support to get help participants get into work.

Jennifer Mensah, 25, found it hard to find work despite having completed a master’s degree in construction management this year. Since joining the programme she has been offered a job as an architectural designer with Lendlease.

She said: “I was applying for jobs, but it was very frustrating and I was getting into debt. My mum had had a stroke and I was having to look after my brother. It was a very worrying time for me.

“The programme helped me to connect with different companies and gain more experience and the confidence to get the job I have been working all my life for. Without this help it would have been 100 times harder for me and might never have happened.”

Jasmine Anthony, 37, secured a job as an electrician with BW Electrical Contractors after impressing on a placement at a new 1,000-home development in Bromley-by-Bow being built by Henry Construction.

She said: “Working as an electrician was always something I had a passion to do, but I never saw it through until now. I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but the programme gave me the confidence I needed. When I was told I’d got a job, I couldn’t stop smiling. I didn’t think it would happen so quicky. I’m just so excited.”

Urging women who may be unsure about entering a male-dominated career, she added: “I have been treated with a lot of respect on site. Don’t hold back, just try it!”

Participants on the programme study for a Level 1 Health and Safety qualification and complete training for a CSCS card to enable them to work on site. They also receive support with overcoming barriers to employment, writing CVs and interview skills. The programme also provides support with IT, childcare and travel.

Work placements and site visits have been provided by Henry Construction, The Guinness Partnership, Alliance Facades Solutions, Assael, Calford Seadon, Danescroft, EU JLL, DPC, BW Electrical Contractors, Hoare Lea, Kone, Metro, PRP, Turley and Waterman Group.

Helen Dobbs, Senior Regeneration Manager at The Guinness Partnership, said: “I’ve been very impressed with the women on the programme and their willingness to participate in meetings and site visits. They’ve all been very positive, enthusiastic and interested, and I am sure they will all secure employment in their chosen fields.”

Women into Construction is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes gender equality in the construction industry and supports women wanting to enter the sector.

Anna Walterskotter, Project Manager at Women into Construction, said: “We’ve had tremendous support from CCCT to continue this programme under COVID-19 regulations, including online training and speed interviews, which have really helped raising participants’ confidence levels. Each of the employers has adapted their work placements to incorporate online sessions and on-site meetings to find out how the women can fit into the industry.”

CCCT is part of Capital City College Group, which also comprises City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London.

Kate Child, Employability Business Operations Manager at CCCT, said: “This was the fourth programme we have run with Women into Construction and the first during the pandemic. It was great to see the women buzzing with enthusiasm after having met their work placement employers and some of them are already gaining employment.”

Click here to find out more about Women into Construction or email Anna Walterskotter at info@women-into-constuction.org

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