Construction company welcomes their first female apprentice
Hear from Eliza, an apprentice joiner, on changing careers to construction and becoming a company's very first female apprentice.
Like many construction firms, Helensburgh-based Scottish Window Solutions had an all-male team of craftspeople. This is not by choice or preference – just 15% of the construction workforce are female, so finding female apprentices can be tough.
This is where CITB and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) stepped in to help. CITB provides companies with grants worth up to £14,500 over the course of a three-year apprenticeship, and SDS’s Adopt an Apprentice scheme provided Scottish firms with grants of £5,000 to help protect apprenticeships during the pandemic. Scottish Window Solutions, the family business run by David and Linda Wilson, haven’t looked back since.
Back in March 2021, the industry was enjoying a strong post-lockdown boom. Businesses were reopening, construction work was flooding in, and jobs and apprenticeships were being created. So matching enthusiastic workers with construction roles became key to help out construction firms.
CITB plays an important role in helping employers find new apprentices – companies can register vacancies, and a dedicated Apprenticeship Officer will provide suitable candidates, assist with the paperwork and help arrange training for them at a college.
I am so glad I made the move to the construction industry. I hope more women do the same.
Eliza, apprentice joiner
Steven Evans, a CITB Apprenticeship Officer, brought Scottish Window Solutions Eliza, their very first female apprentice joiner. Originally from Hungary, Eliza’s career had been in Hotel and Tourism – but once her children hit school age, she wanted a change. And an apprenticeship in construction presented the perfect opportunity for her.
Eliza has been with the company for 8 months now, and she has become an integral member of their team – with her passion and commitment clear from the outset.
Here’s what she had to say on joining the construction industry:
“I was 33, both my kids were at school, and I knew it was my time. I had to make the change,” she said. “I knew I wanted to move into the construction industry. And I knew I wanted to do carpentry. Ever since I was a kid, helping my dad, I had loved it.
“People ask me if it’s hard, and can a woman really do this. And I say - yes, it’s hard. But a woman can definitely do it. Of course, sometimes a man’s strength is needed to lift or do certain things. But all the guys are great. They treat me as an equal, just offering help when I need it”.
“I love doing the high-end precision work with steel and brass. I’ve been working on the Johnny Walker Project in Edinburgh which has been a fantastic experience. Scottish Window Solutions are a great company to work for. And I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
“Yes, it’s hard juggling motherhood, travelling, college and work. But when I do something, I do it with all my heart. Life is always a challenge, and this is too. But as Linda says - there is always a way.
“I am so glad I made the move to the construction industry. I hope more women do the same. And I hope more employers give them the opportunity that Linda and David gave me”.
It’s a brilliant story which is testament to the dedication of all involved, especially Eliza, who changed career and is now at the beginning of her exciting journey in construction. Whether you’re a man or woman isn’t important; working hard and finding your perfect role is what counts.
More women are joining the construction industry than ever – and you could be next, find out what it takes to become an apprentice and explore the hundreds of roles available in the industry. After that, find an apprenticeship where a CITB Apprenticeship Officer will support you through your journey.
To find out more about women breaking down barriers, check out women in construction.