Abbie Dormon, one of our Gas Engineers is a great example of this. After attending one of our parent and student careers event, we learnt that Abbie had previously trained as a gas engineer but since having her daughter had not been able to find a job that would offer the flexibility to upskill and provide on the job training to enable her to re-enter the sector. In a matter of months Abbie progressed from a 1 day per week work placement into a full time paid role she now loves.
Similarly, Angela Auvache attended one of our DIY skills workshops, she wasn’t entirely sure what career she wanted but seemed interested in learning more. We offered her the opportunity to undertake a work placement with us to train as a multi-skilled operative. A try before you buy type scenario.
After training as a hairdresser Chloe Frost, another colleague decided a career change was in order and joined our apprenticeship programme to become a qualified handyperson working on our sheltered housing.
We need to accept that a one size fits all won’t work with attracting women in to the industry, we need to provide opportunities to open up discussions, look at people’s circumstances and find other ways of opening the doors to them. A great vehicle to do this is through social value activity and for us is intrinsically tied to the commitments we make to our clients around providing job opportunities and training to local people.
BasWorx, a social enterprise we set up with Basildon Council to offer meaningful work opportunities to Basildon residents of all ages. This year will be the first year to have women amongst the cohort.
We need to be mindful that it’s not just about attracting more women in to the industry, it’s also about supporting the women we already have and doing our best to hold on to them. This could mean changing the way we work, placing more of a focus on outcomes rather than hours worked and utilising technology to better support flexible working patterns. Organisations need to ensure that their processes and policies work to support and encourage women to return to work after having children. As someone who has had two children during my time in the industry, I have felt and continue to feel very well supported by my colleagues.
We still have a long way to go to change people’s perceptions of the industry and it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not about women. Research suggests that while gender diverse companies are 14% more likely to perform better that those that are not gender diverse, ethnically diverse companies are 33% more likely to perform better.
So let’s #Pressforprogress, women, men, people with different values and experiences – all will have different ways of viewing the world. With hundreds of thousands of jobs needing to be filled in the next 5 years, it’s time to find new ways to attract a broader set of skills so that the industry can better support the communities it serves and ultimately boosts the performance of our business.
Natasha Kyriakou, Head of Marketing