The young women constructing their careers

By Laura Goodwin
Innovation Correspondent

  • Published
Media caption,
More women urged to join construction industry

Technology is changing the way buildings are constructed but can it also help to change who builds them?

In Scotland, women make up just 1.5% of modern apprenticeships within the construction industry.

Samantha Duthie is the only young woman in a class of 17 bricklaying apprentices at Dundee and Angus College.

"It's good," she says.

"I get on with the guys fine. You are just treated as one of them."

Image caption,
Samantha is a first year apprentice

She says she was attracted to it by the satisfaction of watching something she had made take shape.

"Brick by brick, every moment it is coming into what you imagine it to be," she says.

"You are not waiting months to see the final product."

Image caption,
Samantha Duthie is the only woman on her brick-laying course

For Samantha, a career in the building industry seemed natural.

Her dad is a roof slater and she says she loved to help him do building work when she was younger.

So she can't understand why more women are not in the industry.

"It could be the outdoors," she says.

"A lot of people don't like the cold weather and the miserable days. They'd prefer to be inside not freezing outside.

"But if you like to use your hands and be physical and active then construction is something to go for."

Image caption,
Steph Barron is a joinery apprentice

Over in joinery it is a similar story, Steph Barron is one of only two women on her course.

She says she enjoyed woodwork at school and wanted to take it on into a career.

"I like being really accurate and precise in things," she says.

"I like seeing the end product and being chuffed at something you have made yourself."

Singled out

She thinks girls are being put off because it is seen as male industry.

"You don't really think to go into an industry where there is only guys and you'll be singled out," she says.

"But it's not really like that when you go in you are really welcomed, everyone's really friendly and no-one cares you are a girl.

"I was really worried coming to college but then everyone treated me normal. We all have a laugh and help each other out."

Currently just 1.5% of modern apprenticeships within the construction industry are women.

With about 5,000 apprenticeships in this area every year - that's just 72 women.

Earlier this year the Federation of Master Builders Scotland elected two female board representatives for the first time in its history - a move they hope will inspire other to consider a career in the sector.

Image caption,
Rohan Bush says technology and attitudes have changed in the industry

According to Rohan Bush, of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, how we build is increasingly modernising.

The use of robotics and offsite construction in indoor facilities are moving a lot of the work away from the building site.

She says an evolving workforce should be part of that change.

Rohan says in the past the work has been "very physical, very manual and usually outdoors".

She says technological changes as well as shifts in attitudes mean the "pieces of the jigsaw" are in place for more women to enter the building industry.

Image caption,
Technology means more building takes place in factories

"Once more women get involved then other young women see that happening and are attracted into the industry," she says.

"Any industry will do better when it has that range of capability but also ranges of approach to work.

"I think the greater diversity comes in to the industry it can only make it stronger.

"I think there is a lot of change happening which will make the construction more appealing to a wider range of people."