Construction can offer women a brilliant career

The aim of this year’s International Women’s Day (March 8th) is to “Be Bold For Change”, to help create a more inclusive, gender-equal working world.

One area where women are increasingly making an impact is in the construction industry, proving that the sector is “not just for boys”.

A major CITB initiative in South West England, “Step in Step Up”, encourages professionals from outside construction to join the sector.

Sarah Lockhart is one of over 30 people have been helped to train and experience the industry by Step In Step Up since it was launched last year.

Here Sarah, 34, who has begun working as a Trainee Estimator with Kier Construction, explains how and why she entered the sector – and the opportunities that construction offers women.

Sarah says: “I worked at JobCentre Plus in Plymouth for 11 years. I heard about Step In Step Up and decided to see what was available.

“I am now enjoying the start of a career as a Trainee Estimator with Kier. I have been integrated into the team and have felt no intimidation because I’m a woman, my colleagues are very supportive.

“There are diverse opportunities in construction regardless of gender. People from various backgrounds work together to build schools, hospitals and communities; it is a career to feel proud of.

“Women in construction bring a diverse set of skills. I’ve met talented women from Bricklayers to Site Managers, all of whom are integral parts of the business.”

Mum-of-one Sarah spends two-days-a-week on site, one day distance-learning and two days a week getting work experience with the team of estimators, building up my knowledge base and understanding. Sarah is due to start a Project Management qualification next month and will progress with her training on to the Higher National Certificate in Construction in September.

CITB Partnerships’ Manager Leif Tarry said: “Construction is a vast industry with over 150 different roles, everything from planning and design specialists, surveying roles, technology roles, management, logistics and purchasing.

“Figures estimate that women will make up 26% of the construction workforce by 2020. This is encouraging but we need more women in the sector to help address the skills gap. Sarah is an inspiring role model, typical of a growing number of women who are playing a vital role in the construction sector and also encouraging the next generation of women to join the industry. Construction can offer women a brilliant career”

Step In Step Up was expanded to include more women in the project. The project is funded by the employers and by the CITB which contributed £208,484 (of the £298,000 total) from the CITB ‘Flexible – Innovation’ fund option.