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Council joins with construction industry to bust the gender gap

Women in Tower Hamlets have spent the last week breaking down barriers and laying foundations for a career in construction.

Fourteen female residents of the borough came together for a five-day construction skills course, providing them with an insight into the many exciting roles available in one of London’s most dynamic sectors.

Women only make up around 14 per cent of the UK’s construction workforce and a recent survey showed that outdated assumptions mean only 13 per cent of women aged between 16 and 35 would consider it as a career.

But those old stereotypes belong in the past and increasingly, major employers are looking for ways to encourage women to pursue opportunities as they strive to be more representative.

Last week, Tower Hamlets Council’s WorkPath team joined forces with construction company Bouygues UK, Mount Anvil, Endeavour UK and Women into Construction to deliver the Women’s Construction Skills Academy, a bespoke course targeted specifically at female residents of the borough.

The participants received a combination of classroom and practical training, giving them tangible qualifications to embark on a potential career in the construction industry and to apply for relevant roles.

They also had the opportunity to hear from over 20 female staff from Bouygues UK and its sister company Bouygues Energies & Services, Mount Anvil and Women into Construction about their career journeys into construction and engineering, gaining insight into the diversity of career opportunities available in these dynamic industries.

On Friday, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, and Chairman of Bouygues Construction United Kingdom, Fabienne Viala, met the course participants and presented them with certificates as a mark of their achievements so far.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I was delighted to join these inspiring women on International Women’s Day to congratulate them on completing this course. We must all do what we can to ensure that outdated views about male-only industries are consigned to history where they belong.

“Through our WorkPath scheme we are continuing to deliver more construction training specifically for women to support them to play a leading role in this exciting sector.

“As a council we remain committed to providing women in our borough with the advice and support to make their career goals a reality.”

Fabienne Viala, Chair of Bouygues Construction United Kingdom, said: “It has been very encouraging to see that so many of the trainees have been inspired by what they have experienced this week and I sincerely hope that we will see their faces on our sites in the future.

“So often there are misconceptions about the industry but as a woman who has spent over 30 years in construction, I know from personal experience what a dynamic and collaborative sector it really is and passionately believe that the more diverse our workforce, the more innovation we can continue to bring.

“I am very proud and grateful to Welink, our professional women’s network for Bouygues UK and Bouygues Energies & Services, for their energy and enthusiasm in driving this fantastic initiative and to all our female staff who have volunteered their time this week to share their positive experiences of the industry. I very much hope that it will encourage the trainees to join us.”