To Celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, and Women in Construction Week (6-12 March), Women into Construction held a networking business lunch at the prestigious venue, The Drum, just next to Wembley Stadium. The event brought together almost 100 women looking for careers in construction, plus some of the UK’s leading construction employers and trainers, the event aimed to launch the careers of the aspirational attendees. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was #BreakTheBias, and the event helped to encourage women to do just that when thinking of potential careers. Also launched at the event was the recently formed West London Green Skills Hub, bringing green training and jobs to West London.
Sustainability in building design and skills shortages are two of the most pressing issues the construction sector faces. Currently, Women Into Construction estimates 11% of the UK’s workforce in construction are women. The good news is construction growth in the UK reached its highest level for over two decades in June 2021 (HIS Markit/CIPS UK) and is expected to grow by an average of 2.5% between 2022 and 2025, with the anticipated need for an additional 216,800 construction employees by 2025. The sector is reaching out to women, breaking down professional stereotypes, and women are responding to their call. From site managers to project managers, from carpenters to architects and surveyors, women are becoming more familiar faces on building sites across the UK in this growing, creative and dynamic field.
Organisations like Women Into Construction have been instrumental in this decades-long move to shifting perspectives.
Anna Walterskotter, Women into Construction Project Manager, says: “We delivered 5 successful employment programmes with West London College over the past years and are delighted to be hosting the IWD event where we will invite women from across London to meet employers and providers and launch the Green Skills courses at the same time.”
A celebration, networking, capacity building and understanding of what is available in our region with the chance to exchange ideas were all on offer at this ground-breaking event.
Shania Dzousa, a Design Graduate attended a Women Into Construction employability skills course last November and joined a panel discussion to talk about her experiences. Shania says: “I loved the course, it gave me the qualifications to work on a building site and I had two weeks of work experience with Laing O’Rourke, which made me realise how useful my design skills are in construction.”
West London College officially launched the West London Green Skills Hub at the International Women’s Day gathering, which will provide the training to succeed in the green skills jobs of the future as well as build the infrastructure for green skills jobs to thrive.
Speakers at the event included Kate Marsh social value manager for the Danny Sullivan Group and Silvia Florini a senior sustainability manager for HS2. Kate said: “The rewards in this industry are great” and Silvia added: “There is zero difference between a female working in construction or a male. It is just about your skills.”
Gooleswari Seeburn described her journey from labourer to assistant site manager with EE Smith, their first ever in 125 years. “I was looking for a job and somehow the recruiter saw something in me and gave me a job. Now I’m assistant site manager for a luxury project near Hyde Park.”
David Warnes, Deputy Principal West London College says: “We’re fully committed to partnership working at West London College with employers, schools, education and training providers, charities and voluntary groups to strengthen our region’s economy, wellbeing and job prospects for all. Days like today provide an excellent opportunity for women to pursue their careers in construction.”
Leading employers such as Danny Sullivan Group, EE Smith and Mace Dragados took part in the Jobs Fair, giving jobseekers professional insights into achieving successful construction careers, as well as potentially offering them jobs on the day. Colleges and training providers attended to offer information, advice and guidance and showcase apprenticeships and courses.
Nurse, florist and mother of two, Janelle Clark comes from a long line of builders in her family. She said: “My dream is to fundraise and build a school as well as a complex for women and their children experiencing domestic violence.”
Ekemena Obibi has been working in hospitality for the best part of a decade. “I wasn’t particularly academic but went to university to study architecture. It didn’t work out but now I realise I’d love to work in construction and I’ve come along today to find a job.”
This special event was organised by Women Into Construction and West London College. It was funded by the Mayor’s Construction Academy West London and the West London Green Skills Hub.