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Students get helping hand to build up their careers with launch of new project

03 Oct 2023
Future female leaders group

Construction students at Middlesbrough College are set to get a helping hand to build up their careers after a new project was launched.

The Future Female Leaders Programme is a long-term project being organised and run by the National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC) and campaign group Power of Women for students at Middlesbrough College.

The scheme aims to help young women embarking on careers in construction and related sectors with a series of events, workplace visits, talks and mentoring sessions to encourage and support their workplace ambitions and give them additional skills to those they’re learning on their courses.

It is hoped that those taking part in the programme will not only go on to successful careers in the sector, but also can act as role models for the next generation of women in construction.

The project was launched with an introductory session where Middlesbrough College students got to hear from women from a number of the construction sector companies across the North East involved in Future Female Leaders about their various roles and experiences in the sector.

Students also got involved in designing a logo for the Future Female Leaders project which will be used across its various activities.

Those who took part in the launch were full of praise for the event.

Level 2 Brickwork student, Jessica Costello, said: “It’s been a real eye opener for me to see how many different options there are, also seeing so many confident female leaders in one room talking about their careers is really inspiring. I didn’t know there were so many options!”

Shelby French, who is in the second year of a T-level in Joinery, said: “There are not many girls in this industry so when you see others achieving and having successful careers it is really motivating.”

Fellow second year Joinery T-level student Katie Hall added: “Hearing from different women in the construction industry has been really interesting and I have a much better understanding of the opportunities for me in the sector.

“Learning about everyone’s career stories was inspiring.”

Andrea Nicholls, deputy chair at NAWIC Tees Valley and the co-owner of health and safety consultancy A&N Safety Consultants, helped to lead the launch event.

Andrea explained: “A lot of the motivation behind this is to help break down barriers and stereotypes.

“There is still some anxiety about working on construction sites and in the construction sector because it is still a male-dominated area.

“We hope that by listening to women who work in the industry, by going out on construction site visits and through mentoring sessions, young women in the construction sector can gain confidence and find out more about the many career options open to them, from joinery and bricklaying to civil engineering and project management.

“Something like this would really have helped me when I was starting out in the industry over 10 years ago and I know a lot of people on the NAWIC regional committee feel the same.”

Claire Preston, Head of Operations at Middlesbrough-based Power of Women, said the project had come about after discussions with NAWIC on how the two organisations could work together towards common goals.

Claire said: “This is about showing people what is possible and giving this group of students support and encouragement along the way, above the practical skills which they learn on their courses.

“It’s about boosting self-esteem and confidence which often what holds women back from succeeding, as well as developing other life and interpersonal skills which they can add to their tool kit from an early age.

“I was really impressed with the students who we met – they were really determined and it was great to hear their stories about what made them choose their career paths.

“They will be fantastic role models for the next generation which is at the heart of our work at Power of Women.”

Companies who have offered support to the Future Female Leaders Programme include Thirteen Group, Willmott Dixon, Faithful and Gould, Turner and Townsend, Gridmark Surveys, AM Training and 6 Engineering.

Matt Telling, Group Director Business Engagement and Partnerships at Middlesbrough College Group, said: “We hope this pioneering project will make a big difference to the careers of our students.

“As a College, we work hard to attract and support students on all of our courses. We are firm believers that there are no ‘male’ or ‘female’ professions and that opportunity should be open to all.

“We will continue to work with NAWIC and Power of Women on the Future Female Leaders programme and we look forward to seeing how it enhances and enriches our students as it progresses.”

More than 700 students are currently enrolled on construction courses at Middlesbrough College with studies ranging from Entry Level to Level 5 (Higher National Diploma).

The courses offered include Building Services Engineering, Plumbing and Heating Engineering, Civil Engineering, Surveying and Design, Carpentry & Joinery and Electrical Installation. Find out more about Construction courses here.

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