MidKent College is encouraging more young women to study construction, in a bid to break down gender stereotypes and boost numbers joining the industry.
Figures show the number of females opting to learn about the profession at the College in both further and higher education since 2014/15 has risen from 141 to 216 for 2018/19.
However the College, which has campuses in both Maidstone and Medway, wants to raise those numbers and challenge gender stereotypes, which they believe do exist in the trade.
Nationally, women make up just 14% of construction industry professionals, with only 1% of those actually working on site.
Kim Howes is the Programme Director for the Building Services Design Engineering course at MidKent College. She said: “The construction industry is still very male dominated.
“All the trade magazines and publications have a big focus on men in the industry whereas women are either hidden or shown in supportive roles, like HR.
“Not all construction paths are grimy and dirty – the design and management fields can be office-based.
“The breadth of career options is just not realised or communicated.
“Construction is a fulfilling career that could take people around the world.
“Women are very creative and the construction industry has a need for those with a creative and design talent.
“We need to pique young women’s interest when they’re at primary school and encourage them to get hands-on, and messy.
MidKent College offers a number of construction courses and programmes at FE and HE levels, from Building Services Design Engineering to Painting & Decorating, Carpentry and Plumbing.
31-year-old Lindsey Todd, from Ramsgate, has been studying an HNC in Construction at the college over the last year. She said: “I work for a housing association as a contracts manager in the construction industry.
Picture: Lindsey Todd, construction student
“I absolutely love what I do as I’m a very hands-on person.
“ I learn visually, love interacting with people and seeing how the project develops first hand – rather than just from a computer screen.
“Over the last year I’ve also studied maths, personal skills (really helpful after not being in education for a long time!), construction, science and materials and safety in construction.
”I have no doubt that construction is where I’m happiest and what I enjoy most.
“I would definitely recommend other women take up a course in construction – there are just not enough of us on site.
“There’s a few more in the employer’s agent type roles, but in hands-on subcontractor roles there’s very few.
“I think I’ve seen one painter and decorator, and one tiler. It’s a very male dominated arena.
“This course has given me credibility and respect among my peers.”
Last month, Lindsey was awarded an industry award. You can read about it here.