WOMEN’STEC celebrated 25 years of service to women and girls across Northern Ireland on Thursday afternoon at an event held at The Mac in Belfast, bringing together partners, funders, supporters and friends of the organisation.
WOMEN'STEC was established at a time when women had little opportunity to learn skills that are traditionally seen as men's skills - construction, trades, such as electrician, plumber, bricklayer, roofer, plasterer, etc., or to do DIY in the home. In response, a group of women came together in 1998 to address this issue, and 25 years later, whilst the challenges remain, for example, only 1% of trades apprenticeships in Northern Ireland are undertaken by women, WOMEN'STEC has developed into the only organisation supporting women to break down the gender stereotypes and barriers to women's participation in traditionally male careers.
The organisation has grown from strength to strength over the years, notably expanding their training and programmes to the Newry, Mourne and Down region with the opening of a second workshop.
Lynn Carvill, CEO, WOMEN’STEC said, “We are delighted to be celebrating this milestone – 25 years of delivering training and education to women and girls. While most of our service delivery has happened in Belfast, more recently we opened a workshop in Newry and it is our great pleasure to roll out our programmes across the City and surrounding rural areas. Women and girls deserve access to lucrative and progressive careers and we want to ensure these opportunities exist. I am grateful to our construction partners, funders and supporters over the years and look forward to continuing to work with them over the next 25.”
Gilbert-Ash has enjoyed a long association with WOMEN’STEC stretching back over a decade. Managing Director Ray Hutchinson said: “Congratulations to WOMEN’STEC on over a quarter of a century’s work in helping women build rewarding careers in non-traditional roles.
“Gilbert-Ash is proud to be a WOMEN’STEC patron and to have our HR Director, Maria Bradley sit on the Board of Directors. The work WOMEN’STEC does not only makes a difference to the women they support and train, but also to the industries they provide female employees for. At Gilbert-Ash we know diversity in the workplace is an asset for businesses - in its capacity to foster innovation, creativity and empathy in ways that homogeneous environments seldom do.
“Across the UK construction industry the percentage of female workers is around 14%, at Gilbert-Ash the figure rises to around 20%. This is an improvement from where it was when WOMEN’STEC was founded, but we know these figures can be improved upon especially as the industry embraces innovation and new ways of working.The work WOMEN’STEC does on a daily basis can make a real change and we at Gilbert-Ash are looking forward to supporting them over the next 25 years.”
A massive thank you to all invited for celebrating with us and raising a toast to WOMEN'STEC!