This week signifies two important events in our calendar, as we are not only celebrating International Women’s Day, but it is also Women in Construction Week.
International Women’s Day (March 8th) was first set up to increase the awareness of equal rights for women worldwide, while also celebrating the amazing achievements made by women in their given fields. The organisation also states that the event is an opportunity to lobby for accelerated gender parity and fundraise for female-focused charities.
The first International Women’s Day (IWD) event occurred in 1911 and was supported by over a million people. Fast forward to today, and IWD belongs to all groups collectively. It does not apply to a specific country, group or organisation, and is supported by millions across the globe.
Women in Construction Week
Women in Construction week (March 5th – March 11th) is another important event for us. Women in Construction (WIC) Week highlights women as a visible component of the construction industry while also raising awareness about the opportunities available for women.
In its 25th year, this year’s theme is ‘Many Paths, One Mission’, celebrating the different journeys women have taken toward the same goal: strengthening and amplifying the success of women in the construction industry.
In this blog, we will detail some of the women who have embraced the construction industry across our member network, starting with our Training Manager, Gemma Mineur.
When Gemma left school, she was unsure what she wanted to do as a career and tried her hand at a few different jobs. At the age of 21, she decided to return to college part time and complete a HNC in Civil Engineering which was self-funded.
Following this qualification, she then secured a job as a Trainee Site Manager with Simons Group who sponsored her to continue with her degree part time whilst working with them.
Gemma then progressed to Site Manager where she worked on several different projects, and although she enjoyed the work, realised working away wasn’t for her, soshe decided to make a career change.
She wanted to share her experiences with young people and become a teacher, studying a PGCE in Design and Technology and on qualifying and taught this subject for a year; however, there were no permanent jobs locally.
It was from there she found her current role as our Training Manager and has been in the role for 10 years. Her role is quite diverse and ranges from liaising with local construction companies to support them with their training needs, to the recruitment of apprentices on the shared apprenticeship program and supporting them throughout their qualification.
Gemma arranges and attends various types of meetings and network events for Swansea Bay Construction Support Group and Cyfle Building Skills, and works alongside local schools to help promote careers in construction.
Speaking on her experience within the industry, Gemma said:
“I believe the construction industry is the best industry to work in for both men and women. There are so many career paths available and these are constantly changing. With the introduction of new technology – whatever you’re interests, I am sure there is a career to match. You meet so many people working in the construction industry, it is like having an extended family.
“I am very proud to have organised our annual Apprentice Awards evening where we have raised £4000 for local charity Hands Up for Downs and also to have been nominated in the Women in Construction category in the Swansea Bay Business Awards 2022.”
We also asked women working across our member network to discuss their experiences in the construction industry.
Kim Smitham, Carpenter at John Weaver Contractors
Kim began her journey in construction volunteering as a labourer at John Weaver’s Hafod Copperworks site in order to be able to get her foot on the construction industry ladder. She interviewed for an apprenticeship on the back of her volunteer work. Kim impressed the board of directors and was then quickly offered an apprenticeship.
She had previously had a career in care and retail; however, she left these behind due to her eagerness to join the construction industry. Being a mother with two young boys to support, this was not an easy decision, but her ambition drove her to take the opportunity of an apprenticeship in which she has excelled and will complete this year.
She has won a number of apprenticeship awards, including Swansea Bay Construction Support Group Best Overall Apprentice 2022, Gower College Student of the Year 2022, Gower College carpentry apprentice of the Year 2021 and John Weaver’s Apprenticeship Award for two years running.
Kim as now a level 3 Carpenter with John Weaver Contractors and has ambitions for Site Management.
Joan Tamlyn, Business Development Manager at John Weaver Contractors:
Joan entered the world of construction as John Weaver Contractors’ Business Development Manager nearly nine years ago, following an initial career within sales and recruitment straight from finishing a Business Degree.
Her role involves promoting the company and meeting many different people within the construction sector to create more opportunities to bid and win projects across Wales. Joan works alongside the commercial and site teams and sees projects come in from a lead and turn into a site project, which she promotes all the way through to completion.
Joan Tamlyn said:
“There are so many important roles within construction, from the pre-construction team to site team. There is a lot of skill and technical experience involved, and I get to see these projects be delivered and come to life. Whatever you want to do, you can achieve it. It’s a great sector to work in and thriving with a variety of career opportunities.
“No construction project is easy, and seeing how much hard work, collaboration and skill goes into delivering the projects that we do is amazing. Working in construction for an SME means plenty of variety and upskilling, and my role has developed with the needs of the business and the sector, in particular with corporate social responsibility and engaging with the communities in which we work, adding value where we go.
“The attraction of the construction industry is definitely the variety of projects and scale of work you can be involved in. I love that with John Weaver, you can be working on heritage and conservation projects with a wealth of history as well as new build projects and refurbishments within a variety of sectors.”
Katie John, Social Value Lead at Andrew Scott Ltd, said:
“If someone had told me when I was in school that I’d work in construction, I probably wouldn’t have listened to them, and now I wouldn’t want to work in any other sector. To me, there’s no other industry that offers the level of variety and opportunity that construction does.
“As someone who will talk to just about anyone, the best part of my job is working with communities to ensure our projects leave a legacy, whether that’s by engaging with and inspiring the next generation of construction talent, helping people into work, or by delivering small acts of kindness to help improve people’s lives. Huge steps have already been taken to
make construction a more inclusive industry that is accessible to all, but more can always be done.
“It’s so important that we demonstrate to young girls that construction can be an option for them, and it’s not just jobs for the boys. This generation of women need to make ourselves visible for the next generation, so they can see the opportunities that are available to them.”
Ffion Williams, Trainee Interior Designer at Green’s Carpentry and Building Services, said:
“As a Trainee Interior Designer with Greens, I work with clients to help them when it comes to their joinery items, mainly kitchens and wardrobes. I also use design software to create realistic visuals, so clients can see what’s going to be made.
“I was always inspired by the way a well-designed space can completely transform a room, I love working with clients and being able to bring their vision to a reality and seeing the finished product.”
Jennifer Parker, Contracts Manager, John Weaver Contractors
Jennifer began her career in construction as an Apprentice Carpenter, before progressing through various roles including Carpenter, Assistant Site Manager, Site Manager, Project Manager, before becoming Contracts Manager.
As part of her progress in the industry, Jennifer gained the following qualifications: NVQ 3 Carpentry & Joinery, HNC Building Studies, BSc Project Management, MSc Environmental Management (other Industry Training).
Speaking on her experience within construction, Jennifer said:
“I was always a more hands on person and enjoyed practical classes at school, so when I asked my teacher what job I could do if I wanted to work with wood, he said a carpenter, and so it began. After working my way up through the ranks and becoming Contracts Manager, I realise that was the best advice given to me and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
“Working in the construction industry is amazing in all sorts of ways, you get to work with a wide range of people on many different types of projects and produce some amazing end products. Whether it’s building a new apartment block, refurbishing a hospital ward, helping to conserve the history of our older buildings, or just building Uncle Jim’s new porch, the variety means you’re never bored!
“I think that what I enjoy the most is that every day is different and never dull. Also, seeing the end of a project that you have spent a lot of time, energy and emotion on finally get finished is one of the most satisfying feelings. Some of my most memorable moments in the industry were not always about the build or the fancy award events, but with the people involved in the works and the fun and banter had with them.
“After 20 years, and regardless of what position I’m in, those moments continue to make each day enjoyable. I’ve found being a woman in the industry an enjoyable challenge. It’s not all plain sailing, but with the right attitude and commitment, a lot can be achieved. My advice to anyone looking to start a career in construction is to know your own mind and don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise. If you want to achieve it, you will.”
Libby Jones, Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Manager at Andrew Scott Ltd:
As the ESG Manager for Andrew Scott Ltd, Libby is responsible for ensuring the company and its projects operate in a sustainable way. This entails overseeing social value programmes that meet current and future generations needs and pursuing new plans and initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. She also works closely with the Pre-Construction department, working on tenders to help win work.
Libby started working in the construction industry 15 years ago after graduating from Cardiff University with a Sociology Degree. Her connection to the construction industry was through a family member, who shared the benefits and opportunities of a career in construction.
Libby soon saw what potential there was to develop an excellent long-term career and was able to directly transfer skills that she learnt from university into her job, including research and writing for bid submissions and reports, communication and interpersonal skills when working with various departments and on social value engagement initiatives.
Libby Jones said: “I would say to anyone looking for a career opportunity – consider construction! There are lots of support roles in construction that are important to help deliver projects and operate as a business. The best part of my job is working on a variety of different projects, meeting and building relationships with people and being able to make a difference to positively impact communities and the environment around us. It makes me proud to work in construction when I see how much of a positive impact our projects can have on individuals and communities, as a result of people working together as a team to deliver positive outcomes.
“It is important for me to see more women in the construction industry, to ensure the industry continues to be a place where innovation can drive success and continuous improvement. Having an industry that is diverse and inclusive will mean it is better placed to continue to deliver innovative and sustainable projects.
“Andrew Scott Ltd are working hard to raise the awareness of the industry in schools, colleges and universities and to those who are looking to change careers with work experience placement, site visits and awareness sessions. It is important for us to reach as many people as
possible to promote a positive image of the construction industry, which we hope will attract more women.”
Emma Passmore, Trainee Joiner, Green’s Carpentry and Building Services
Emma has been working at Green’s Carpentry and Building Services for over 18 months. Her role within Green’s has changed considerably over time and now consists of purchasing materials for site, invoices, speaking with suppliers, coordinating deliveries, HR, data and administrative duties.
“I feel that the company and my colleagues have supported my role throughout. I changed from working in the holiday cottage Industry, being customer service and admin based, to a new role entirely which is full of demands and daily challenges.
“Being new to this environment, I feel that I am learning key facts every day and working within various areas of the business on a daily basis. I am office based mostly, but occasionally get to site to see the amazing projects nearing completion.
“My colleagues, of which the majority are male, are so helpful and I would never have been able to progress in this role without their support and knowledge. The environment in which I work is a happy and positive one with lots of characters with great personalities. Green’s is a great workplace and I feel that we are all learning and moving in the right direction and working to achieve the same goal. Happy International Women’s Day!”
For more information on Women in Construction Week, you can access their information, events and more here. Use the following hashtags to get involved in the conversation on social media: #wicweek #wicweek23 #25yearsofwicweek #womeninconstructionweek2023
We would like to thank our members who submitted information for this blog. You can learn more about each below:
Or to learn more about our member network, please click here.