Almost 90 girls aged 14-15 from secondary schools throughout the Borders attended a Women into Construction presentation at Borders College recently by a team from The Cruden Group.
Being held in conjunction with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) as part of their Scottish Apprenticeship Week, the presentation was aimed at encouraging girls to consider construction as a career and promote women in the industry generally.
Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, delivered an uplifting talk to the girls. She emphasised the importance of the event in light of the fact that women are still vastly under-represented within the construction industry. She said: "Of the 4,894 new apprentices that Scotland welcomed into its construction industry last year, only 76 were female - that represents just 1.6%. We need to work together to change that.
"The range of work in the construction industry is diverse, from sales and marketing, trades, engineering and architecture. It offers flexibility during a working life which is often overlooked - and in a world where jobs for life is rare."
The presentation from representatives of the Cruden Group management team covered all aspects of the construction process.
Head of Business Development, Gill Henry explained the development and construction process, partnership working and Cruden's commitment to community benefits, while Sales and Marketing Director, Hazel Davies tackled research prior to acquiring land, sales set up, on-site marketing, sales conveyancing, customer care and awards.
Sales Manager Lynsey Jackson brought a showbiz air to the proceedings by demonstrating her celebrity experience, including being on the 'Richard and Judy show' and talking the girls through how she got involved in the residential property sector, what it entails and how much she enjoys it.
In addition to the presentations from Gill, Hazel and Lynsey, 4th year joiner apprentice Adam Sim from Hart Builders (part of the Cruden Group) closed the session by explaining life as an apprentice and his hopeful career path for the future (no mean feat for the lad given he was presenting to over eighty teenage girls!!)
The girls also enjoyed a tour of the college's construction faculties and were able to try out their virtual digger skills via a 25-tonne, 360 degree plant simulator.
Gill Henry, Head of Business Development at The Cruden Group, said: "Traditionally, construction is seen as a 'job for the boys'. Cruden is keen to take a lead role in challenging this perception and was delighted to present an overview of a much wider range of careers in the industry and provide real life insight into roles of senior female staff within the Group".
Euan Hastie, CITB Apprenticeship Officer, organised the event. He said: "The event helped us talk openly and directly with young women about construction in a fun, interactive and myth-busting style, challenging the outdated stereotypes that the industry is somehow just for boys.
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"We conducted a quick straw poll before and after the event. At the beginning, we asked the girls how many of them would consider a career in construction - only two or three raised their hands. At the end, that number increased to about 25. I was delighted to see so many enthusiastic responses. We hope to continue to build on that success throughout Scotland in the future."