BAM calls for more female graduates to enter Scottish construction industry

As school pupils begin to choose their subject options and look ahead to their prelims, BAM Construction is urging Scottish school girls to consider taking up construction related university courses and apprenticeships in a bid to increase the number of women in senior roles in the construction industry.

The company, which employs more than 140 people in Scotland, and through its supply chain provides apprenticeship opportunities across Scotland, is concerned that the historic view of construction as a male orientated industry has been deepened by the impact of the recession, with the number of women working in the construction industry actually falling by 11.5 per cent between 2007 and 2012.

BAM’s new graduates
BAM’s new graduates

Doug Keillor, regional director at BAM Construction, said: “We have been trying for years to break down the impression that construction, and more directly, contracting, wasn’t something women would be interested in. Today we are a modern, safe and technologically advanced industry, but of the 33 per cent of people in apprenticeships in Scotland only 1 per cent are female with a similar picture with graduates. We need to be doing more to address this.

“We’re actively going into schools and talking to all pupils about the benefits of a construction career and its importance within the economy and arranging site visits but it’s difficult to get career advisors within schools and colleges to encourage high quality male pupils to consider a career in construction, let alone female ones. There is still the sense that in some circles construction is seen as a second class occupation so we need all the help we can get to drive home the message that the construction industry offers a diverse and highly rewarding range of opportunities for everyone.”

BAM have recently employed four female graduates in Scotland, assistant project surveyors Erin Spiers, Louise O’Neill, Katie Harrison and Moyra Coutts, not because they were women, but because they were the outstanding candidates for the jobs. On the operational side Laura Wilson has just moved into a trainee site manager position having worked for BAM for several years as a site administrator. The hope is that these young women will provide strong role models for others to follow.

Moyra said: “I think it is important that many out-dated myths of the construction industry are dispelled as it prevents many people, particularly women, from giving a career in the construction industry due consideration. My personal experience within the industry so far has been extremely positive, and I feel this is something which is only going to improve as mind sets continue to change, crucially at the highest levels.

“I was drawn to construction as it is a continually developing industry, therefore providing a huge variety of job roles and exciting opportunities.”

Such sentiment is echoed by Katie Harrison who said: “At school you think of construction as a bricklayer or joiner but there are so many other professions within the industry that are required in construction projects.”

BAM is currently sponsoring eight management apprentices who were recruited directly from school, as well as a number through its supply chain.

Doug added: “Although times have been challenging there is an even greater need now to ensure that construction companies have the right skills to deliver in a highly competitive market and its made all the more difficult if there’s a lack of interested high quality candidates in the first place and you are missing 40 per cent of the entire workforce.”

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