West Nottinghamshire College is helping women move from their tradition as homemakers to homebuilders thanks to a new construction taster course.

The Entry into Trades programme has been designed in partnership with the Women’s Trade Network and will provide students with an introduction to a range of construction-based skills such as brickwork, joinery, plastering, tiling, plumbing, and painting and decorating, and a Level 1 health and safety qualification, based at its Kirkby-in-Ashfield construction campus.

The course, which will run two days a week over 12 weeks, will enable any women over the age of 19 and not in full-time education, the opportunity to take theory and practical lessons at the college’s construction centre based on Julia’s Way, and is free to study.

Lessons will run from 9am-3.30pm but can be flexibly structured to suit individuals’ needs such as caring responsibilities and the programme will commence week commencing 19 September 2022.

It will provide the opportunity for individuals to gain valuable experience before considering a potential career in the booming trades sector and is being fully funded. Students can then progress onto a Level 2 construction qualification in a specialist area and will take away a CSCS card. These cards are proof that individuals working on construction sites have the appropriate training and qualifications for the job they do on site.

Learners will undertake practical assessments and the college will cover the cost of the training and the test. Students will need to purchase their CSCS card for approximately £30 upon successful completion.

For the women in construction programme’s tutor Heidi Rhodes, switching careers to work in this sector is nothing new. On leaving school Heidi worked as a veterinary nurse and after that she joined the army. After leaving the army she began teaching animal care and moved to work at West Nottinghamshire College in a support capacity.

Women in construction programme’s tutor Heidi Rhodes

Due to her passion for practical work, Heidi moved to the college’s construction campus, and it was there she decided to work more closely in the trades and became a technician for painting and decorating team.

She said: “I achieved qualifications at the construction campus and expanded from there. I got my multi-skills qualification which enabled me to teach in the multi-skills trades and I’m now working towards the Level 2 plastering course.

“During my time at the college I’ve noticed more ladies coming into the construction trades and this multi-skills qualification is brilliant if you’re unsure of which trade you’d like to specialise in. It gives you a good taste for the different types of work available and from this qualification you can then go on to a Level 2 and specialise in that area.”

Assistant principal in construction, Phil Clark, said: “This is a really fabulous opportunity for women to come along and get a feel for the first steps in a range of construction trades. In a sector which is increasingly seeing women fulfil rewarding career ambitions, there’s never been a better time to experience this short course.

“We have so many skilled construction and craft tutors, some of whom are women who have enjoyed their own careers in the industry, and they are delighted to be able to offer this rolling programme of trades to local ladies.”

For anyone interested in enrolling on the programme more details can be found here and they should contact the Women’s Trade Network at [email protected] to enrol.

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