Leeds College of Building reports 30% increase in female student intake

New figures reveal that a Yorkshire college’s work to attract more women into the construction sector is beginning to have an impact.

Over the last four years Leeds College of Building has seen a 30% increase in the number of women studying technician courses, including civil engineering and quantity surveying.

There are now almost 150 female technician apprentices studying at the college. However, the increase in numbers is still counter to national trends in the industry.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of women in construction has not increased significantly over the last decade despite attempts to improve female representation.

Helen Wollaston, chief executive at Women into Science & Engineering (WISE), based at the college’s Hunslet campus, said: “It’s vital that more girls and young women take up construction courses like those at the college.

“Construction and engineering are all about creativity and team work, and offer great opportunities for women alongside men to help build a better world together.”

Brian Duffy, the college’s faculty director, is pleased with the progress it is making in attracting women into the industry.

However, he added: “There is still more that can be done in the sector to help overcome stereotypes of the trades and entice women into a massive number of fantastic vocations.”

Recent female success stories at college include Ruth Watson, who was awarded New Civil Engineer Apprentice of the Year in December after being selected over 100 peers in industry.

She has also received a highly coveted ICE QUEST Technician Scholarship.

Ruth, 20, from Headingley, is a Level 5 Higher Apprentice who currently works in the dams and reservoirs team at Mott MacDonald as a project leader.

She trialled a digital tool that helps compare the impact that various methods of construction have on carbon emissions.

Leeds College of Building was established in 1960 and is the only specialist further education construction college in the UK. It currently works with more than 500 employers and has 1,600 apprentices on programmes across the UK.

Construction is nearing completion on a new £13m college building on the city’s South Bank. The state-of-the-art, 5,200 sq metre, four-storey building will offer a range of classrooms and workshops.