Positive attitude to women in trades

Ling Tsang, a tutor within the School of Construction, at Blackpool and the Fylde College
Ling Tsang, a tutor within the School of Construction, at Blackpool and the Fylde College
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The North West is the most enlightened region when it comes to views on female traders, according to a new survey.

Research carried out for vetting service Checkatrade.com found the region came out top with a positive attitude to women in manual trades.

And at Blackpool and The Fylde College, which offers a range of courses designed for manual trades, staff and pupils agree.

The survey for Checkatrade.com found 85 per cent of people in the North West agreed women entering manual trades was a “good thing” – the highest in the country.

While in the North East not a single person said they would actively choose a female tradesperson, in the North West, nine per cent said they would deliberately choose a female trader ahead of a man and 71 per cent had no preference. Eleven per cent said they would pick a female gardener and nine per cent said they would choose a female painter and decorator – with most believing women would deliver “more attention to detail.”

And it looks as though female manual traders could be on the rise.

Checkatrade says the number of women becoming members in the first five months of 2014 matched the number for the whole of 2013.

Ling Tsang, tutor in the school of construction, studied painting and decorating at Blackpool and The Fylde College. She worked in the industry and now teaches the level three diploma in construction at the college.

She believes there is now more interest from girls in the manual trades traditionally seen as male-dominated.

“I worked across the North West between 2006 and 2010 as a painter and decorator, doing the interiors and exteriors of private buildings, Government buildings and so on.

“I found the people I worked with were mixed in their response – some of the older generation weren’t as okay with women in the industry, but arguably there were people of the same generation who were fine with it.

“I did feel I had to work ten times harder to prove myself.

“A lot of women shine in the industry. “I think there may be some situations where a girl or women might be more suited to a job. Say for example, for an elderly lady who lived on their own – they might feel more comfortable.

“I think women and girls do have great attention to detail, I specialised in murals, as I had an art background.

“I’ve seen more girls taking construction courses and interested in them over the last few years. I think young people generally see women going into manual trades as normal and are accepting of it.

“A friend of mine did plumbing and she went on to be on a TV make-over show.

“When I do open days and careers events, I find I am approached by girls.

“It’s interesting finding out girls’ perception of careers in construction and letting them know it’s not just brick-laying – there’s architecture, for example. And they can move upwards too in the industry.

“I’m glad I trained in the industry, I have that skill and there’s always work there if I need it.”

And Rebecca Lismore, 17, from Bispham, who is studying level two joinery at the college, agreed.

“My grandad was a joiner, so I was brought up around it really and developed that skill.

“I really enjoy it, putting the work in, creating something and seeing the finished product.

“The college has been supportive and it’s great there are girls studying construction courses.

“I think there are more girls looking to go into the industry and manual trades now. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t.

“I am pleased by the results of the survey, but I think girls should be encouraged more.

“I think women should be more hands-on and just have a go.

“I suppose I got my attitude towards things from my mum, who was a mechanic. I was brought up to think gender didn’t matter in terms of your career.

“I would encourage any girls or women to go into manual trade, if they think that’s what they’d like to do.”