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"My hope is that more women become part of the construction industry"

8th March 2024

I knew I didn’t want to go to university, and unsure of what to do next, I worked in countless ill-fitting jobs but ended up deflated that I may never find my place in the world of work.

I finally took the plunge and signed up to learn a trade because it’s hands-on, and you can take it anywhere in the world. I chose carpentry specifically as I loved the diversity and far-ranging work it includes along with the precision required. As I hadn't got the required experience, I applied for an apprenticeship so I could learn the skills needed on the job, achieve a qualification and be paid for it.

Gloucestershire College were incredibly supportive from my initial contact and throughout the course. Soon after applying, I had an interview and was immediately put at ease that my gender was not going to be an issue to the college in the path that I wanted to pursue. If anything, it was celebrated, with my college contact excited at the prospect of having a girl on board. My tutors have been so encouraging and have helped me build my skills but perhaps more importantly, my confidence. The support I have received has meant I can concentrate all my efforts into my new role and has allowed me to learn so much in a short space of time.

Whilst everyone I have spoken to has been supportive, I am not naïve to the fact that not everyone would hire a female in the construction industry. The stereotypes that exist surrounding gender play a large role in this, with people presumably feeling females aren't strong enough, wouldn't fit in on site, or wouldn't like using a portaloo - something that was raised with me in more interviews than I expected.

Whilst none of these factors have been an issue in the real world, I would assume they were a contributing factor as to why I initially struggled to secure a job with a company. After many applications, I began to fear I would never find a firm willing to give me a chance. Ultimately, I found a supportive employer, and am happy in my workplace. I knew heading into the apprenticeship that I would be in the minority, and I believe that you should never let anything, especially gender, hold you back from pursuing what you want to in life.

At the end of last year, I was incredibly proud to be named the Amazon Intermediate Apprentice of the Year 2023 at the National Apprenticeship Awards. The awards are held annually in London and celebrate a range of employers and employees from all backgrounds, from hairdressing and military to IT and construction.

Winning this award has fuelled my passion for sharing the importance of apprenticeships and supporting females in construction. Whilst I don’t think I’ll change the world, I do hope that maybe one girl may see this win and realise she can start a career in a trade too. She may inspire another girl, who will inspire another and so on; the domino effect could make real change.

My hope for the future is ultimately more women become part of the construction industry. I’ve realised representation is so important and seeing someone who looks like you doing something makes it more achievable.

Whilst I appreciate that not every female wants to pick up power tools and work on site, I am interested in reaching the ones who might love it but not even know it's an option. The girls who love to get their hands dirty and their minds working. The girls who love to see what they’ve created and the process it takes to get there. The girls who have never thought of construction because that’s “just not what girls do”. I know those girls are out there because I am one of them.

Amy Brown works for Tombs Developments Ltd. She was named Intermediate Apprentice of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards.