WOMEN’STEC and CITB NI held a ‘Girls Into Construction’ event on 16 November 2017 to promote awareness of the diverse range of career opportunities for young women in the construction sector.

Over 60 girls from eight secondary schools attended the event with pupils taking part in non-traditional, hands-on activities such as roofing, carpentry, painting and decorating, and tiling. Students met more than twenty women who currently work within the construction industry in Northern Ireland as engineers, health and safety officers, project managers, architects, and carpenters.

Lynn Carvill, Chief Executive of WOMEN’STEC stated, “There is a real shortage and need for skilled workers within the construction industry and through this event we are hoping to raise awareness of the rewarding and well paid jobs available to everyone, including girls. Often girls can be directed towards traditional career paths such as hair and beauty and these are often less well paid jobs. We are encouraging girls to think beyond traditional career paths and to look at remuneration as well. For example, a Hair Dresser may earn £16k, whereas an Electrician or a Plumber may earn £25k annually. 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.”

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.”

The event included a presentation from Gilbert-Ash showcasing the women who contribute to its success in a variety of roles.  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.  We are pleased to work with WOMEN’STEC and CITB NI to help raise the profile of construction as an industry of choice to work in and to attract more women into the sector.”

Lynn Carvill, Chief Executive of WOMEN’STEC added, “Only 3.1% of women were enrolled in further education colleges in NI for 2015-16 in Construction, Planning and the Built Environment compared to 96.9% men. In Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies there was 8% female enrolment compared to 92% men. 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.”

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. We are proud to support the Girls Into Construction initiative as part of our backing for WOMEN’STEC and CITB NI Women in Construction Network and our ongoing commitment to increasing diversity in the workplace.”