Glasgow Clyde College senior lecturer in plumbing and gas, Nicola Murray, has her say about the construction industry and the challenges she has faced.
Having started her apprenticeship with Glasgow City Council in 1995, Nicola Murray served time as a Plumber with Gas Qualifications by 1999 before working on a Plumbing/Gas Maintenance contract in Glasgow for four years.
She moved on to Queenslie Training Centre as trainer for a year and was seconded to Trolhurst Training then to British Gas for another year then started at Cardonald College in 2005 as a Plumbing/Gas Lecturer. From there she was promoted to Senior Lecturer of Water which then expanded to Gas and Electrical Commercial work where she aspires to move further up the ladder.
In her role at the college Nicola works closely with many stakeholders but in particular she worked with Scottish Water on a schools project called Engineering Challenge, where groups of school children from various schools attended the college and met with companies from industry like George Leslie and were mentored to produce something in relation to renewables that made Scottish Water more environmentally friendly.
Do you think more should be done to encourage women into construction and why/how has Glasgow Clyde College helped them so far?
I think changes in many areas over the years have made it more accessible for woman, for example different martials in the plumbing industry (cast iron baths widely replaced by fibre glass baths) made it easier for removal and installations. As a college we actively encourage woman in industry and recently teamed up with Hub West Scotland in partnership with BAM Construction to assist in the delivery of an introductory employability programme, Ready Steady Girls Construct! During the programme, 12 girls got industry talks/awareness sessions, practical demonstrations on site, site visits, SVQ Level 1 qualification, employability skills and a few days of real life work experience placements
What particular challenges have you faced in the sector and were you ever discouraged from continuing?
Being a female starting out in a very male dominated industry I faced many challenges; acceptance, competence expectations, negativity and many more but in all of that I met lots of great people who have mentored me and supported me throughout my experiences and encouraged me to continue. I will not say that I never thought of quitting certainly in the first ten years but as time goes on and different generations allow for progression it easier now than it’s ever been for a female to build an excellent career in construction.
Is it important to you that by working at a college you can be part of many student’s first experiences of construction?
It is very important to me that I am part of a student’s first experience of the construction industry as we have the ability to change people’s life’s and support them into an area where the opportunities are not limited, there are so many pathways available that no matter the route you will find where you are best suited in industry.
Do more women see construction as a viable career option?
I’m not sure if I know the answer to this question, I would like to think so but I don’t know that I have ever met a female who said when I grow up I want to go into construction however that said I know plenty of females in industry who love their job and have good careers.
Glasgow Clyde College collective overview
There is quite a large female presence within the lecturing staff at Glasgow Clyde College including Morag Robertson, head of curriculum for computing, Alison Anderson and Julie Stevenson lecturers in Engineering and Julie Kilpatrick and Michelle McGuire are both lecturers in horticulture.
Glasgow Clyde College has been working with its partners for a number of years to encourage females into STEM subjects. The College cannot influence young people’s choices alone. It is by working with multiple partners such as industry, schools and the Higher Education sector that can help influence young people’s choices. By working with these sectors Glasgow Clyde College can influence the influencers such as parents and peers about the exciting careers young people can undertake.
Technologies in both Construction and Engineering are changing at a pace which requires people to have a wider skillset, which STEM permits. Many of the lines between each subject are being eroded as technologies influence both the Construction and Engineering sectors.
The future economy needs a highly numerate, digitally skilled, capable workforce, particularly numeracy and digital skills which are becoming fundamental across the labour market. The careers and occupations that rely on STEM are diverse and range from computing, engineering, life sciences, design, and creative arts to construction.
Glasgow Clyde College’s successful STEM event organised in partnership with SMARTSTEM. This event brought together college staff, schools and businesses to deliver STEM activities to young people whilst linking it with business and the interesting careers young people can go onto realise.
This type of event is designed to engage those who may not have considered a career within a STEM subject. STEM and the gender imbalance are sector issues that the Scottish Government have asked Colleges to help address, in running this type of event assists in changing people’s perceptions about STEM and the exciting careers individuals can undertake.
The feedback from both staff and students that attended on the day was extremely positive with a noticeable buzz about the place, including on social media with many of the organisations represented on the day commenting on how well the event went.
Around 200 pupils from 22 primary schools attended the day with 12 employer partnership on show hosting 4 workshops (SERIC, LENOVO, NAVY and THINK TANK) and 8 stands.
25 college staff were involved in demonstrations and STEM activities and a further 35 students volunteered to help out on the day.
Catch up with the rest of Scottish Construction Now’s International Women’s Day feature here.