The manufacturing sector including the construction and engineering fields is one of the remaining industries in the UK that is still low on the number of girls entering the profession.
While much has been made of righting the ‘jobs for boys’ perception of these sectors, an imbalance still exists and doesn’t seem likely to go away anytime soon. Engineering, for example, has lower than one percent of a female workforce in the UK, but one local company is doing its part to help girls get into the field and more importantly, stay in it.
Nadine Morrison, an 18-year old Level 3 Gold Construction Products Engineering Apprentice, is one of only 2 girls on her course and has just secured an apprenticeship with manufacturing giant – Acheson + Glover (AG) – whose Fivemiletown plant is only a few miles down the road from her home.
From a young age Nadine always had an interest in how things work – and coming from a farming background she was no stranger to huge machines. Not put off from construction or engineering as a result of their male-dominated stigmas, if anything, she has been encouraged by it, feeling a sector dogged by gender imbalance has the most opportunities for girls to come in and impress.
Securing this apprenticeship with one of Northern Ireland’s leading family-owned companies will see Nadine work on-site three days a week, balancing real on-the-job experience with two days’ class work. In her second year, she will increase her time outside of the classroom to four days a week, from which she hopes to springboard into university life specialising in one area of engineering.
With this in mind, her bosses at AG will encourage her to shadow various disciplines of the business, mirroring her modules so she can get a true idea of all facets of manufacturing life and blend theory with practical knowledge. Her apprenticeship only started in September and she has already had overalls on and spent the day with AG welding to complement her welding module.
She’ll build up knowledge of how the concrete products are made from start to finish so everything from seeing aggregates being blasted in the quarry right through the production line to the end product being placed in situ.
In the right place to experience big machines, her hydraulics module will be boosted by a stint with AG’s production team learning and seeing how AG’s production machines work mechanically. With a requirement for an in-house fitting team to ensure any breakdowns are fixed on the spot by experienced and knowledgeable fitters, Nadine will shadow them to get to grips with mechanical engineering in a real-life business situation.
Nadine said: “With university ambitions, this apprenticeship is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for me to learn about all aspects of engineering and in a business environment to boot. AG has put together a really comprehensive training plan for me, allowing me to shadow all aspects of its business and see the different disciplines in action – hopefully guiding me into the right specialised area to focus on at uni.
“At the minute I think a job in environmental engineering is my ideal role but who knows how this will change as I get first-hand experience of other types of engineering. Apprenticeships are a great chance for ambitious young people to get a glimpse of what life after studying will be like but also to add that invaluable experience to a CV, which will hopefully make securing a job that bit easier.”
“As for jobs for the boys? It’s definitely still a male-dominated industry but that wouldn’t put me off. I like that I’m different – a fresh young face as well as one of only a few girls. It’s a chance to stand out and start creating a new legacy for these industries that will hopefully encourage more girls to follow their hearts and if they like big machines, feel ok to say it.”
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