Sheffield College students are benefiting from a campaign designed to boost the number of women working in construction and engineering.
Shauna Wigglesworth, 24, and Cariad Thomas-Cooke, 31, are studying to become electricians and both have received a bursary from the Sheffield-based Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WEST) and the nation’s largest electrical regulatory body NICEIC.
WEST joined up with NICEIC at the start of this year with the aim of creating more opportunities in the sector for women. Together, they created a bursary and will provide support to help the beneficiaries find work placements with local firms.
Shauna said: “I was buzzing when I heard I’d got the funding. My ultimate aim is to gain experience in installation work and then get into cable designing with an architect.” Cariad added: “Because of my age I don’t qualify for government funding. The bursary means I can retrain and go into a different career. I was itching to do something that wasn’t stuck in an office. I really want to become an electrician because of the options it opens up for me.”
Liz Kettle, Outreach Worker, WEST, said: “Attitudes within the construction industry have changed dramatically in the last 20 years. However, the number of females choosing to become a plumber, builder or electrician is still very low. We want to highlight that fact and make choosing a career in the trades a legitimate career option and a viable one for women of all ages.”
Jason Pepper, Executive Director, Finance and Resources, The Sheffield College, commented:"We are committed to training our students in the skills that employers need to improve their job and careers prospects, and to support regional economic growth. Our new £6.8 million facilities at our Olive Grove campus demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that women, as well as men, benefit from the exciting opportunities and rewards that careers in engineering offer."
NICEIC currently represents around 26 000 registered firms across the UK. It set up its Jobs for the Girls campaign four years ago when it discovered that less than one in every 1,000 electrical contractors was female.
Emma Clancy, Chief Executive, NICEIC, explained: “Through our Jobs for the Girls campaign NICEIC has actively encouraged more women into the electrical industry. The industry is not a closed one. The aim of this partnership is to open up the opportunities that exist within it to women of all ages."