Shauna challenging perceptions

As today (8th March) marks International Women’s Day, a Slough teenager says she is determined to challenge perceptions as she takes the first steps towards her future career.

In December, Osborne Communities began a contract with the Council for planned works and repairs to over 7,000 homes across Slough, central to which is a social value commitment including education, employment and skills.

As part of this commitment, Shauna Smith, currently studying for her Plumbing and Heating Level 1 at Langley College, is currently gaining work experience one day per week with Osborne.

She said: “For whatever reason plumbing is just something I’ve always wanted to do and found fascinating.

“Being able to gain work experience with Osborne alongside my studies has been really enjoyable and given me the chance to experience what it would be like as a future career. My mentor, Gary, has been really supportive and is a great teacher so I’ve learnt a lot which I perhaps wouldn’t have just from my college course.”

And Shauna, who would like to work full time in the industry once qualified, says she is not put off by any perceptions of construction as a male industry.

“For me it didn’t matter at all that it might be seen as a male industry. In fact, I think it’s important to challenge those perceptions, so if anything it has made me more determined and I would encourage any other women to do the same” she says.

The rate at which women are embarking on careers in construction is at an all-time high, with women expected to make up a quarter of the industry workforce nationally by 2020.

Carol Bailey, who sits on the Osborne Communities Board as Managing Director for Property Services, says: “Companies must harness the power and skills of women if we are to avoid a skills crisis within the industry. Significant progress is being made and we are committed to supporting women into the industry whether it be employment, apprenticeships or work experience.”