Building Bridges to a more gender inclusive construction sector

Group of students in full PPE standing on a concrete footbridge over a pond

 

[What did you enjoy about the programme?]

“The empowerment of women and the validation that we have a place on site.”

This year we had 34 women and minoritised gender students participating in Equate ConStructEd and it was the best one yet! We had students join us from 13 different colleges and universities who came from a wide range of construction, engineering, and built environment areas.

For the first time our students completed the concrete footbridge project as well as two wind turbine projects. Having both projects working simultaneously allowed us to demonstrate a wider array of onsite careers and experiences for the students.

Women in full PPE on top of a cherry picker fitting the head of a wind turbine“This helped to increase more knowledge about how things work on site. How to manage the project within time limit. How to work under pressure, how team spirit, and leadership can bring huge changes in project. Being a civil engineer this means a lot to me to grow and learn professionally and mentally”

In teams, the students worked together to take their projects from 2D drawings to finished structures in just three days.

The students were all assigned roles to take responsibility for, reflecting the diversity of roles onsite and how interconnected and interdependent each aspect of onsite work is with one another.

The students had responsibility for all the onsite work with the support of the onsite mentors. Tasks included project management, setting out, managing excavating, designing the electrics, steel fixing, laying the concrete, and building the powerhouse, health and safety.

As well as gaining hands-on experience to apply their learning in the practical environment, the students also had the chance to develop their communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills which are critical to their professional development.

Students in PPE making formwork for concreteStudents in High-Vis pouring concrete into bridge structure

“I have experience of project management through my work but this experience has allowed me to gain practical knowledge and experience of onsite working. This programme has tied everything together from my HNC in Construction Management. I feel this programme has allowed me to develop my project management skills which will help me in my job, and has given me confidence in my knowledge and abilities.”

Women and minoritised genders are still vastly underrepresented in the construction sector, making up less than 13% of the total construction labour force in Scotland, and less than 5% of the onsite workforce.

Tackling the skills and labour gap in the construction and engineering sector is critical for securing Scotland’s economic growth and transition to a lower carbon future. The construction Industry Training Board (CITB) estimates an extra 26,100 workers will be needed across the sector in Scotland from 2024 to 2028 in order to meet infrastructure and housebuilding targets.

Students holding wind turbine head, sat inside large wind turbine tower

Gaining experience on an active site is critical for the students to develop their practical skills and understanding, as well as learning about the careers available to them, developing their professional networks, and building their confidence and their employability skills.

Wind turbine team in PPE sitting in wind turbine structure

 

 

Out of 32 feedback responses:

  • 28 said their confidence had improved as a result of participating
  • 25 thought their communication skills had improved
  • 25 believed their teamwork skills had improved
  • 22 thought their problem solving skills had improved

We were joined by industry mentors from Balfour Beatty, Jacobs, Sunbelt, as well as supported by the ConStructEd Scotland team.

“I always felt that knowing a process from root is important and there is a gap in my field as we always do drawings mainly and did not have the chance to see the whole building process – and ConStructEd really helped me deepen my knowledge and understanding and I am so grateful for this opportunity.”

“I have never had on-site experience or spoken to active members of the industry, I have never witnessed the functional mechanics of on-site work and roles”

3 Students building bridge across pond. All are wearing PPE

This year’s ConStructEd was fully funded for the students with the support of sponsors Balfour Beatty PLC and HCI Skills Gateway, with travel and accommodation costs covered to eliminate barriers to students accessing this opportunity.

Equate Scotland is proud to put on events like this to support gender diversity in Scotland’s STEM sectors.

We are hugely grateful to our partners at EXPLearn, Balfour Beatty, HCI Skills Gateway, Sibbalds Training, Morrisons Construction, and Jacobs for helping make this another fantastic year of Equate ConStructEd.

“I really enjoyed everything about this programme. Seeing the project from technical 2D drawing to a fully functional turbine was very satisfying and having the opportunity to talk to experts and learn from them was invaluable.”

All Constructed participants in group photo. All are wearing PPE