Students from Walbottle Campus got a taste for career opportunities within the construction sector recently when they attended an event organised by NE1 Ltd, the Business Improvement District company, to find out at first-hand about the type of jobs available to women.

This was the second event focused on job opportunities for women within the construction sector but one of several events staged by NE1 CAN  aimed at providing insights into careers where girls are currently under-represented – tech, engineering and construction being the three main sectors.

Across its series of ‘females into’, 64 girls have accessed the various programmes to date.

The event formed part of NE1 CAN’s wider programme to meet the individual agendas of the businesses it supports within its membership.  Many companies in these industries are keen to develop more diverse workforces and would particularly like to receive more applications from women.

Held in the offices of NBS, the leading provider of technical information, specification and Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools, the day certainly proved popular with the Year 9, 10 and 11 girls who attended with their teacher, Rebecca Lavin.  She  said:

“NE1’s initiative and facilitation of this event was invaluable to the students as it gave the girls direct access to women in construction and allowed them to find out more about what prompted them to choose this career path at a time when they are making their own GCSE choices.  The session helped to dispel the myth of the construction sector being male dominated and demonstrated that there could be a place for them in the sector.  The role models they met were inspiring.

“Through the tasks set, the students were able to get a better idea of the skills required and appreciate the purpose of what they are learning in class.  The curriculum was brought to life when they were able to put some of their maths into practice to cost a job or calculate waste.”

The group activities included a brief to build a structure within a budget that would allow a marble to go furthest for the cheapest cost. The group also visited a live construction project, which looked at the heritage of buildings and the restoration they need to make them safe.

Joanne Padgett, project manager at Malhotra Group, which is the development company behind many exciting projects in the city, took the students to its site on the Cloth Market where restoration work is underway to the Pumphrey’s building, part of a plan to improve public space in the city centre.

Jane Hibbert, senior BIM author at NBS, hosted the event, and worked with the three groups of students as they worked to meet the brief.  She also spoke of the exciting career opportunities available to women at NBS and how she came to work there.

Beth, a Year 11 student, said she has known from a young age that she wants to work in construction and  the event helped her to gain a better understanding of the industry and to explore how other females feel about working within it.

Yasmin in Year 9, found the event inspiring from a practical standpoint, learning how to build a solid structure and to take a risk in relation to cost.  Her team built the most expensive structure and fully met the brief, making them the overall winners.

Louise Liddle, NE1’s business network manager, added:  “When businesses open up their workplace and staff share their experiences, this allows young people to gain a real insight into the world of work.  This is particularly important in sectors like construction where there is a skills deficit and women are under-represented.

“We greatly value the collaborative relationships we have with our NE1 businesses, which allow this type of learning opportunity to happen. I should also like to thank multi-disciplinary engineering consultants, Cundalls, who helped to support this event.”

So far this term, across the NE1 CAN series of events, hundreds of young people have accessed  these kinds of opportunities with other schools such as Newcastle Sixth Form Centre, Haltwhistle Middle School, St Thomas More in North Tyneside, Walker, Furrowfield  and Sacred Heart also taking part.