Leazes Homes is addressing the skills gap in the construction sector at a grass roots level, promoting the importance of women in technical roles into the bargain.
The Newcastle-based affordable housing provider is to deliver 100 new homes between now and 2018, funded in part by £2.2m from the HCA, and said the provision of apprenticeships is a fundamental part of the process of procuring developers.
The firm has created 42 apprenticeships in the last four years and continues to support 59 others.
And to reflect moves across the industry to employ increasing numbers of women in more technical and scientific roles, Emma Cook has now started work as a trainee technical surveyor.
Miss Cook said she found her degree in Architectural Engineering to be far too focused on classroom theory, prompting her to seek a more hands-on experience, which led to the apprenticeship with Leazes Homes.
She said: “I’ve already learned so much in the nine months I’ve been here and it stands me in much better stead for the future. I’ve been working with Computer Aided Design and conditional surveys and even my desk-based work has useful practical elements.
“Now I’m considering going back to university but to study a BSC in Building Surveying, which has been inspired by my time here, and I’d like to continue working part-time if possible so I can keep developing my skills.”
Her post was part-funded by Gentoo, as part of its contract to develop the scheme at Cypress Avenue, Fenham, and she has also worked across a number of Leazes Homes and Your Homes Newcastle projects, including Trevelyan Court, the recently-opened extra care scheme in Newbiggin Hall.
She said: “It’s rare for me to hear anything derogatory about being a woman in what used to be considered a man’s world.
“Sometimes people will joke about whether there are boots available in my size but once they see I’ve brought my own and what I can actually do when I’m wearing them their attitude tends to change!
“My philosophy has always been to listen to myself rather than anyone who is negative about my chosen career anyway.”
Bill Midgley, chair of Leazes Homes, added: “Leazes Homes is acutely aware of the importance of tackling the skills shortage and apprenticeships are a fantastic way for us to do so.
“This is a win-win option as it offers vital opportunities for young people while at the same time providing enthusiastic and dynamic employees eager to learn and contribute.”