Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland construction 'should have no barriers for women'

By John Mulgrew

The issue of gender within Northern Ireland's construction sector has become "irrelevant", it's been claimed. Claire Colvin, talent director at Cookstown firm CDE, says there "should be no barriers for young women" to get involved in the industry.

She was speaking as the firm welcomed 15 young industry leaders to the company, alongside members from the Quarry Product Association NI (QPANI).

"Despite enduring misconceptions, gender in construction has become irrelevant," she said.

"Today's construction materials industry offers wider-ranging career opportunities than ever before.

"Aside from requiring site and factory staff, CDE is always on the lookout for experts in environmental technologies, electrical engineering and many other fields.

"This increasingly diverse job offer presents opportunities to both young men and women who wish to embark on technical degree courses in the knowledge that there will be equal job opportunities after graduating."

And Catherine Keenan, who is company solicitor and manager at Creagh Concrete, based in Toome, Co Antrim, said the visit has "demonstrated that young people who choose a career in construction materials can think big, reach high and achieve a fulfilling career in the industry field of their choice, regardless of gender".

She said: "Over the years our company has worked closely with CDE on a number of projects and we have always been impressed by their diverse range of staff and expertise."

Gordon Best, regional director of QPANI, said that almost two-thirds of CDE's workforce are aged under 29.

"At QPANI we have made it our mission to promote gender diversity as an essential part of the Northern Ireland construction materials industry's success and we were delighted to support today's visit to CDE.

"The next step is to identify champions who will represent the industry across different platforms such as Women's Tec, the largest quality provider of training for women in non-traditional skills in Northern Ireland."

Ms Colvin added: "Our staff is typically a combination of experienced professionals and young graduates who we nurture throughout the course of their career development.

"Women are an essential part of this balance of expertise and bring a vital perspective to our work that helps us stay on top of our field."

Last month, John Armstrong of the Construction Employers Federation warned over a slowdown in public sector building work, due to the collapse of Stormont.

Belfast Telegraph

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