Woman in hard hat holdign clipboard, talking to man in hardhat

An amazing experience I’m so glad to have taken part in, the most exhausting but rewarding 3 days. Learned so much in such a short time and made new friends and connections that will benefit me in the future’. Erin Cullen, Heriot-Watt University

Equate Scotland in partnership with ConStructEd Scotland and Sibbalds Training delivered our 3rd hugely successful 3-day women only Equate ConStructed event in September 2020.  And once again we are extremely thankful to our industry sponsors Balfour Beatty and AECOM .

Held at Sibbalds Training in Blackridge, West Lothian another 28 amazing women looking to enter a career in the construction sector attended the practical hands-on onsite experience – an experience like no other.

Dale Lyon of ConStructEd said ‘the 2020 group of women are one of the best groups to have taken part in ConStructEd ever’.

Group of women in hardhats

The event originally planned for May 2020 was postponed due to the Corona virus pandemic.  But when COVID-19 restrictions loosened, we moved quickly to deliver the event between 22nd and 24th September.  During a period of huge uncertainty and a summer of huge disappointments with little or no internships going ahead due to COVID-19, Equate and our event partners were delighted to be able to provide an opportunity for women STEM students to gain onsite experience and build their employability skills and network.

This year the students were guided in their task to build a working wind turbine in 3-days by industry professionals Lindsay Neill, Freelance Construction Project Manager, Lisa Ferrie, Design Manager at McLaughlin Harvey, Catriona McGeechan, Graduate Engineer at AECOM and Amber Collins who completed the 2019 women only ConStructEd and winner of the 2019 ConStructed Brian Keenan Award for Endeavour.

Sibbalds and ConStructEd had to make a number of changes to how the course was delivered during COVID to ensure the health and safety of all our participants and staff over the 3 days.  I am pleased to say it all went extremely well!

This year’s cohort was made up of 28 women from eight FE/HE institutions including Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Glasgow, The Open University, The University of the West of Scotland, Inverness College UHI and City of Glasgow College.

The ConStructEd event provides a great opportunity for the women students to meet other women studying the same disciplines at other institutions across Scotland.  There were 3 HND students and sixteen 2nd year and nine 3rd year under grad students studying various built environment related subjects including civil engineering, construction management, quantity surveying, architectural engineering, architectural technology, environmental civil engineering and structural engineering.

As with the previous two years (2018 and 2019) the feedback for the 2020 event was excellent:

  • 100% rated the event Good/Excellent (14.81% and 85.19% respectively)
  • 100% said the event gave them a good insight to what it is like to work onsite
  • 100% said attendance at the event helped them make an informed decision to pursue a career in the construction sector
  • 85% said they now understand a lot more about the role of contractors and consultants onsite
  • 82% said attendance at the event increased their confidence in their abilities a lot more

Students reported their top skills developed over the 3 days as:

  • Team working skills 93%
  • Problem solving skills 89%
  • Technical skills 82%
  • Communication skills 82%

Many students reported they were surprised at the amount of manual labour and decision making involved over the course of the project.  They also reported an invaluable part of the learning was learning about the importance of health and safety and risk assessments required for each task as well as the level of communication required to successfully deliver the project.

Alannah Greig, Inverness College UHI said ‘This was a very valuable experience to learn the processes involved with construction and to appreciate the amount of physical and mental demands involved. The team were all very friendly and it has confirmed that I want to be involved in this industry’.

Natalie Gibson, City of Glasgow College said ‘I thoroughly enjoyed being able to apply the knowledge I have gained from my studies and gaining practical experience that I can draw on in my future studies’.

Eilidh McCulloch, Glasgow Caledonian University said ‘It was fantastic, great experience. Enjoyed meeting new people. Can’t wait to do another in the future’.