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Here come the girls – construction apprentices build careers

Three Central students are helping to blaze a trail for females in the construction industry as a result of a partnership between Nottingham City Homes (NCH) and Central. Danni Webster, Genna Spencer and Carly Hewes have secured apprenticeships at Nottingham City Homes along with 4 new male recruits, taking the organisations’ latest intake of construction apprentices to nearly 50% female – something that is still very rare in the industry.

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L-R Central apprentices Danni, Carly and Genna at Nottingham City Homes.

Nottingham City Homes is the largest social housing provider in the East Midlands, looking after more than 28,000 homes, and the apprentices are working in the joinery and electrical teams to help maintain these homes.  NCH is currently running a Women in Construction initiative, which aims to increase the proportion of females in trade workforces in Nottingham, so Danni, Genna and Carly are in good company as they embark on their careers.

Thirty-year-old Danni was looking for a change in career when her friend spotted something on Facebook about NCH’s Women in Construction taster workshops. A local tenant from St Ann’s, Danni came along to find out more, and she was hooked. When the opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship came along, she jumped at the chance. She’s loving the job and has now completed a month at NCH as an apprentice electrician, working with the voids team. This team specialises in ensuring empty properties are brought back up to a lettable standard, ready for new tenants. As well as on-the job training, Danni is spending one day a week at Central’s Beeston Centre to complete her NVQ qualification.

I’ve really enjoyed it so far, college has been good and I’m working with the voids team, learning as I go along. It’s a real change for me, but I like a challenge and I’m really happy with the job so far.

It can seem a bit different to some people for a woman to go into construction, but so far I’ve had a really good reaction and I’m looking forward to learning a lot more of the practical skills.

Danni - Construction Apprentice

Danni has initially been signed up to a two year contract, to enable her to complete her apprenticeship, but the role has the potential to extend, with further higher level training available if she chooses to take it.

Nick Murphy, Chief Executive of Nottingham City Homes, said:

The more we can do to support Nottingham people into employment the better. There’s high demand for places on our award-winning apprenticeship scheme. Historically a lot of our workforce is male, so as a company we have made a commitment to driving our Women in Construction initiative forward, to make sure these employment opportunities are available to the widest range of Nottingham residents. By offering workshops and work placement opportunities to local women we have seen a huge rise in the number of female applicants for our construction apprenticeships this year.

Nick Murphy - Chief Executive of Nottingham City Homes

Maxine Blake, Business Engagement Manager at Central, said:

We’re proud to be working with an organisation that places equality, diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their recruitment and working practices. More and more employers are realising that they need to not only encourage applicants where they have traditionally lacked representation such as females in construction, but to also ensure that their whole business culture embraces the value of a diverse workforce. Nottingham City Homes are a prime example of how that works in practice. It’s a great ethos which our apprentices get involved in from day one.

Maxine Blake - Business Engagement Manager at Central

Central College Nottingham provides a free recruitment service for employers who would like to employ an apprentice. Through this they aim to make it easier for more small businesses to follow in the footsteps of larger organisations such as NCH who have more than 40 apprentices across a range of business areas.

You can find out more about apprenticeships through Central College Nottingham by calling 0115 914 6414 or visiting the apprenticeships section of our website. For more details on the Women in Construction initiative or vacancies at NCH visit www.nottinghamcityhomes.org.uk