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Breaking BARRIERS.

It is only as we approach the new millennium that we are realising that people can be anything they want to be.

Men who overcome the macho stereotypes are finding themselves greatly appreciated as nurses and secretaries ...

Just as women are making the grade in construction.

The stereotypes that these jobs aren't done by "real men" and by feminine women are deflating faster than burst balloons.

And all the old arguments for single-sex careers sound pretty hollow and chauvinistic nowadays.

We are still years away from being a society where gender is not an issue in career terms. It just isn't the only issue.

Having the qualifications and skills to do the job is an effective passport through the gender barrier.

And those who dare cross are often rewarded with careers that suit the individuals down to the ground.

Cambuslang College in Lanarkshire is the largest construction craft training centre in the UK and runs 20-week pre-vocational courses for young people to try out a range of trades before pursuing formal apprenticeship.

The healthy state of the construction industry means that apprenticeship recruitment rates are up, with a very high percentage of those seeking training being taken up by the industry.

But the college admits that it has not been able to recruit as many girls as it would like and now it plans to run a course specifically for women.

Girls could then investigate the skills and careers which exist on their own merits, free from the added discomfort of being heavily outnumbered in class.

Alex Moyes, the Construction Curriculum manager at Cambuslang, is keen to stress that apprentices nowadays are laying the foundations for a career - not just a job.

He says: "The building industry is booming again and career prospects are very good, especially since the industry has really taken in the idea of promoting from within.

"An experienced tradesperson can be promoted to site agent, surveyor or building control officer for example, and many go on to university and to run successful businesses.

DEMAND is such that brickies down South can command around pounds 700 a week just now and the range of trades offers something for everyone.

This includes the opportunity to travel, since construction industry skills translate well for projects all over the world.

At Cambuslang College, male and female pre-vocational students get a taste of several possible trades.

They have the option of trying out carpentry/joinery, plumbing, painting and decorating, brickwork, plastering and roof tiling, slating and cement work.

They can then make an informed choice about the right apprenticeship for them.

But there is plenty room for more girls, according to Alex Moyes.

He points out that many builders are happy to employ a different perspective on their construction activities - especially in homebuilding, where women are a very significant buying force.

There is also a growing demand for female tradespeople doing jobs in private houses.

Lady joiners and plumbers are still a rare breed ... but they are in demand.

Not every man - never mind woman - wants to be fixing a roof or unblocking a drain in the pouring rain.

Bt the message is that if careers in the construction industry appeal, then gender shouldn't hold you back.

One in 14 workers in the UK is currently employed in construction and there is a growing demand for more women to enter the field. It may end up diluting the macho "Diet Coke Break" image of the industry, but experience elsewhere has proved that a more even gender balance is generally a good thing ...

So long as each side picks up each other's better habits, and not the other way around.

A SELF-MADE

WOMAN

ANOTHER young woman breaking the mould is apprentice building services technician Andrea Glover; the first female apprentice to be taken on by Consulting Engineers, Ramsay & Primrose in Glasgow.

Her dad was in engineering, with a background in the Navy, so it was obvious to Andrea that her future lay in the Navy, too. She says matter of factly that "she wouldn't be happy doing a girly job".

Bad careers advice blocked Andrea's initial ambition to be a Naval Artificer.

But she was so keen to break into her current field that Andrea has moved in with friends in Helensburgh to enable her to take up the job with Ramsay & Primrose.

Originally from Carnoustie, Andrea had no luck trying to find an apprenticeship in Dundee but her determination so impressed chairman Tony Ownsworth that she leapfrogged to the head of the field.

Engineering careers also suffer from a gender bias that does the industry no favours.

A recent survey by the Engineering and Marine Training authority (EMTA) among 4000 schoolchildren revealed that dated stereotypes about engineering still adversely affect recruitment rates.

Half the children questioned said that engineers worked in a "dirty environment" and only one in 10 said that they were "fairly likely" to consider an engineering career.

Encouragingly, only one in five schoolgirls agreed that "engineering is a job for men".

But this is not translating through to recruitment. Women make up half of all university students, but only 15 per cent of UK engineering students are female.

But 17-year-old Julia Blair from King's Park secondary in Glasgow has risen above the steroetypes, thanks to a girls-only introduction to engineering run by EMTA and funded by the Glasgow Development Agency.

EMTA offers 500 places on introductory courses at a dozen universities each year to girls interested in discovering more about engineering careers.

And as a result of her experiences, Julia has decided to study Civil Engineering at Strathclyde University from this autumn.

And she strongly advises other girls who get the chance to check out the sector.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Calder, Marjorie
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 9, 1998
Words:949
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