Today, according to GoConstruct, women make up 14% of the construction industry, with 37% of applicants following higher education being female. While the proportion of women entering the industry seems to be on the up, it will come as no surprise that a large proportion of girls leaving school wouldn’t consider construction as a viable career choice. Perhaps the industry (or at least the public’s perception of it) is still a little old fashioned that way.
Well, at K10, we think it’s about time this changed – and we aren’t the only ones.
Louise, Tyler and Pearl are all currently part-way through their K10 Electrician’s Apprenticeship across several of London’s major construction projects. We recently discussed how they ended up in the construction industry, how they are finding it, what they feel the experience has given them so far and what they would say to anyone considering it as a career.
Each of these extraordinary, confident ladies started their journey slightly differently. While we met one at a jobs fair, another always knew she wanted a trade after leaving school (though she originally opted for mechanics) and the third caught ‘the construction bug’ through doing part-time work for her boyfriend’s father while studying performing arts.
‘For some school leavers, university is the best option. But apprenticeships are best for others. It just depends on the individual. There are different ways of learning that suit different people. That doesn’t mean one option is better than the other. I think this needs to be made clearer in schools. Kids should be encouraged to take the route that most suits them, as an individual.’ – Tyler
‘While the focus of college courses tends to be on theory, an apprenticeship really concentrates on you gaining practical skills. Skills and qualifications that you will actually use day-to-day on site. From day one, you’re learning from experienced colleagues from all walks of life. And you can earn money at the same time.’ – Pearl
Regardless of the route they took to the apprenticeship, these young women agree that it was absolutely the right choice for them, and one that they would repeat, should they have the chance of a ‘do over’ on life, for several very simple reasons:
‘I enjoy what I do, and I take pride in it. I love having something to physically show for my day’s work. I appreciate that every day is different, not like my previous jobs in retail or other sectors. It’s something to look forward to every day.’ – Louise
And while it’s not always a walk in the park…
‘On site work is physical, so you really need to be prepared to be on your feet. A lot. You’ll need to be on site whatever the weather too: rain, shine, hail, snow – the work doesn’t wait for the sun to come out. If I can give you one piece of advice, it would be: don’t forget your knee pads!’ – Pearl
…our apprentices say any bad weather they might experience is completely worth the end result:
‘What I really enjoy, is going past sites I’ve worked on over the course of my apprenticeships, seeing people living in the spaces and knowing I helped make that possible. The tangible sense of achievement is unbelievable.’ – Louise.
Over the time we’ve known Tyler, Louise and Pearl, each one of them has come into their own. Thanks to the wonderful mix of people, work and skillsets they’ve been able to experience throughout their apprenticeship schemes, they’ve become so much more confident not only in their trade skills, but in themselves. It’s wonderful to have been able to be part of this transformation.
‘It’s always delightful to see our apprentices doing well, but these ladies bring something extra special to the table. They are a prime example of why we do what we do. K10’s passion is not only to bring more people but also more diversity into the construction industry. It’s the sector that all of us here are completely passionate about and we’re dedicating our time to opening the public’s eyes to its career potential. It’s amazing to see this in practice. ’ – Adam Sapey, Chief Operating Officer K10
And, again, we’re not the only ones who think so
‘‘It has been a privilege to employ Pearl – she has been with Hanover Building Services since February 2019 and has shown a real wiliness to learn and to become part of a team.
She is a strong girl who is a shining example to any women whom are thinking of coming into the construction industry.
She stands her ground very well with the guys on site, of which can obviously be a bit daunting in this male dominated industry which is slowly changing for the better. With the likes of Pearl, and similar minded women – I hope we can change the perspective of “ Women in Construction “ for years to come.’ – Keith Russell, Electrical Project Manager, Hanover Building Services Contractor
One thing that our Apprentice Electricians made clear was that anyone (man or woman) considering a career in the construction industry should explore it as a viable career option, regardless of any potential preconceptions. It’s safe to say our ladies are certainly thriving ..and you could be too.
Tyler Whelan, Apprentice Electrician with Mulalley on Chrisp Street Market project, Tower Hamlets.