Can any of us still remember our career aspirations from when we were young? How closely did we meet these aspirations and what impacted any change? An awareness of the extent to which young people’s career aspirations can be shaped, changed and even re-directed by pre-existing stereotypes in the world around them will be crucial to developing improved strategies for early engagement.

The Government’s Gender Equality; A roadmap for change paper identified the importance of engaging with schools and education as early as possible “because children’s career aspirations are shaped and restricted by gender stereotyping that sets in at a young age.”

Reaching out to schools and colleges was a key aspect of Inspiring 5050’s research into the current lack of females on house-building sites. Northampton College were one of the very first organisations in the local area keen to share their approach to increasing female entrants into construction-related careers.

Head of Construction at Northampton College Mark Bradshaw along with his team are strong advocates of increasing accessibility for females into construction and have introduced a number of initiatives to support this. As well as providing Project Engagement Director Andreya Ashwell with the opportunity to talk with current and past female students about their interest in chosen careers, how they trained and their experiences of working on site, the college have introduced a mentoring programme for all new and existing female students, providing an outlet for them to share experiences and talk. They are also heavily invested in engaging with schools to talk about careers in construction both independently and via the Go Construct STEM Ambassador programme.

The college is fortunate to have several females in the lecturing staff with direct experience in trades. Victoria Brant-Bullock and Jacqui Hughes have shared their career journeys with Inspiring 5050 to provide inspiration to others who may be keen to take the step into developing a practical site-based career.  With female role models being a crucial part of engaging girls and young women into careers, it’s fantastic to see Victoria, Jacqui and the wider team advocating the advancement of young women in this area.