Higher Apprenticeships attract more women into construction and the built environment

Interest in higher apprenticeships continues to grow since the programme launched in 2011. They now account for 20% of the 2,500 apprentices that attend Leeds College of Building.

One area where the College is bucking the trend is with applications from females. Over the last four years, the College has seen an increase in the number of females studying technician apprenticeships, including civil engineering and quantity surveying. In 2011 the programme started with one female apprentice, and currently we have 72 females.

The increase in enrolments is counter to national trends in industry and data from the Office for National Statistics which show that the number of women in construction has not increased significantly over the last decade despite attempts to improve female representation. An area that we are looking to expand on is the use of Ambassadors, who can help appease the confusion surrounding apprenticeships and encourage more females to consider a career in the sector.

Sinead Burke works for PH Plasterers as a Quantity Surveyor and is halfway through her higher apprenticeship. Since starting at College, she has been a representative at STEM showcases, recruitment fairs, and RICS events, and is a student representative on the MatRICS Yorkshire & Humber Committee expressing the views of the junior members in the region. She is also ambassador for women in industry.

In a recent interview, Sinead said: “Being a female in the construction industry is not a challenge as much but something that makes me stand out on site. The number of women in the industry is steadily increasing though, which is great!”

Ruth Watson is a Higher Apprentice at Mott MacDonald and attends College one day a week. She also represents the College as an ambassador. Reflecting on her experience, she said: “I was shocked at the variety of different levels of apprenticeships there are. Finding out that on a degree apprenticeship I could still acquire a degree, which would be fully sponsored by my employer, while learning on the job, was very exciting. It also left me confused about why there’s a certain stigma about apprenticeships and why they aren’t publicised more.”

Both Ruth and Sinead have been recognised at a national level, winning the New Civil Engineer Graduate/Apprentice of the Year and BTEC Construction Student of the Year 2018 respectively.

The higher apprenticeships available at the College enable apprentices to progress into a range of disciplines, including building services engineering, civil engineering, construction management, and surveying.

If you would like to find out more about higher apprenticeships within the constructions and built environment sector, please get in teach with the Apprenticeship Team on 0113 222 6041.


Written by Catherine Izzard, Leeds College of Building, Marketing Manager