Women in construction: Trainee electrician Niamh Slaughter moves against the trend14th June 2018
One of our trainee electricians, working for KT Electrics, sub-contracted by Thakeham, speaks to us about her choice to train as an electrician, the challenges she faces and her new found job satisfaction.
A career I hadn’t considered
Becoming an electrician wasn’t an obvious choice for me, in fact, I’d never considered it before seeing an apprenticeship advertised. Struggling to stay motivated at college, I realised that I needed to be doing something practical; I was keen to keep learning but I wanted to start working too. Deciding on an electrician apprenticeship made sense for me, I’d loved physics at school and I wanted a job that would mean I could see my achievements and progression in the finished product.
Studying while learning on the job has been challenging, but it’s been great to put everything I learn in theory, into practice. I’ve also been able to ask questions whenever I need to and learn a vast amount in the first year of my apprenticeship.
A supportive and encouraging environment
The construction industry isn’t particularly welcoming to women. I think it’s the stereotypes that are discouraging, but I’ve found them to be totally untrue and I’ve enjoyed disproving people’s preconceived ideas of who should and shouldn’t be working on a building site. The team that I work with have always been supportive and I’ve felt encouraged and respected throughout my journey so far.
That’s something I truly love about my job; the camaraderie, the sense of family and real teamwork. And not just amongst the electricians I work alongside, but meeting people from all other trades too, creating opportunities to learn so much from so many different people. Everyone I’ve met has been so welcoming and really helpful when I’ve needed it, so it’s been a wonderful, safe environment to begin my career.
My ambition is to become a Site Manager, and gaining so much practical experience as well as knowledge of working on site, I hope, will prove invaluable once I reach the next stage in my career. Perhaps that’s also why women don’t feel encouraged into the industry, because they aren’t aware of the fantastic career opportunities available beyond the apprenticeships, I know I wasn’t before I really looked into jobs in construction.
Disproving the stereotypes
To begin with, I found it frustrating that people on site assumed I wouldn’t be able to lift heavier things or carry out certain tasks – but I’ve overcome that by proving I can do it on my own. I’m improving every day and it’s been really fulfilling to have been given the opportunity to illustrate my capabilities alongside my male counterparts.
My advice to women who are open to considering jobs in construction is: go for it! Be confident in yourself and in your ability. We’re the only ones that can disprove the stereotypes that exist in the industry. It’s been so rewarding to prove people wrong while loving what I do and having a promising future ahead of me.
Now’s the time, ladies!