A pilot initiative to encourage more female school students to consider careers in construction was held in Leeds to mark International Women’s Day 2022.
The event on 8th March was hosted by Leeds College of Building at its North Street Campus, and attended by the Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracey Brabin. Female pupils aged 14 and 15 were invited to take part in sample sessions of construction-related training, to get a taste for what working in the industry is like.
Attendees from Cockburn School in Beeston had a packed schedule of events during the day, including talks from female lecturers from within the sector. The students got a taster of first-hand trade skills, and learned more about careers in architecture, transport planning, painting and decorating and construction.
Speaking at the event, Leeds College of Building’s Vice Principal Nikki Davis said:
“The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. At the College, we are passionate about being inclusive, challenging stereotypes, and responding to the inadequate number of women employed in construction in the UK.
These free taster sessions are designed to open the eyes of young women to the exciting and fulfilling careers available in this industry. Skilled specialists are highly sought after for varied construction roles, which are very rewarding and can offer excellent progression, development, and pay.
Our past female students have an excellent track record of high achievement. Many have gained managerial posts, worked on big construction projects with global firms in areas such as civil engineering or architecture, or won industry accolades. Perhaps some of the girls here today may join their ranks.”
How can construction get more women into the industry?
Only 14% of professionals employed within the UK construction industry today are women, and the sector has long struggled to attract female candidates to what has often been seen as a male-dominated industry.
At the same time, construction is facing a major skills shortage. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) predicts that the sector needs to recruit over 200,000 new workers by 2025 to support current projects.
When it comes to bringing more women into construction, the gender pay gap is a pressing concern. Recent data shows that female employees at large firms are paid on average 20% less than their male colleagues. Incidentally, this includes Leeds College of Building, where women’s median hourly pay is 24.7% lower than men’s.
Initiatives such as this one for IWD 2022 are clearly a positive step in the right direction, helping to change the perception of construction and encourage more women to consider it an attractive career choice.
But leading companies and educational facilities within the sector also need to walk the talk. They need to act fast and effectively on issues such as the gender pay gap, to effect real change in diversifying the industry – and send the message that construction is for women.
If you’re looking to improve diversity within your workforce, get in touch with our specialist recruiters here at VGC.