Stephanie Hay is a joinery apprentice working for Barratt Homes in East Scotland. When she left secondary school after staying on at 6th form, Stephanie applied to Edinburgh College and secured a place on the National Progression Award in carpentry and joinery, which then gave her the opportunity to work for Barratt on a four-week work experience placement. This in turn led on to a place on the Barratt Apprenticeship Programme.
Stephanie, please can you tell us about your career to date and how you became interested in working in the construction sector?
I became interested in the construction sector as I liked woodwork at school and this got me into carpentry and joinery. My teacher at high school also saw my skills in woodwork and encouraged me to apply for the National Progression Award in carpentry and joinery at Edinburgh College.
What does your role at Barratt involve and what is a typical day like?
My main role with Barratt Homes is to learn more about construction and to get an understanding of how Barratt works as a company. I help out on site working with the joiners. The finishing joiner helps me learn how to hang doors, put on skirting and nail facings around the doors. I also help my manager on site with his inspections for the houses. I occasionally do customer care jobs around client houses such as replacing new door handles, shelves in kitchens and cut stair stringers.
How is your apprenticeship structured and what are the benefits of learning on the job?
The main benefits of learning whilst on a construction site are working with such a wide variety of people, being rigorously schooled on health and safely and receiving practical hands-on learning on site. It’s challenging as you start to learn the roles of the other trades, but you get lots of one-on-one time with the joiners who are teaching you how to do your work.
How does Barratt support women in construction roles?
Barratt Homes has supported women like myself by helping build my knowledge and skills. By getting a grant from Construction Skills to let us attend college, this has helped me a lot as I am in my third year now at college studying the Advanced Craft course in carpentry and joinery at Edinburgh College. Barratt Homes will definitely help you achieve your goals through its apprenticeship.
What are the challenges being a woman working in a male dominated sector like construction?
There are always challenges working in a very male dominated sector as everyone has different abilities and strengths. I have worked on two Barratt Homes sites since starting my apprenticeship and they have been great! I have worked with guys who treat you with real respect and make you feel part of the team.
What is your advice for other women and girls who are interested in finding out more about a career in joinery?
My personal advice to other women who are interested in this line of work is do not be afraid to get out there. Working in a male dominated trade the men on site will help you throughout your apprenticeship. Barratt Homes really help with your learning and will pick the best site for you to achieve your goals.
What can the construction sector do to attract more women?
The construction sector could do with advertising more, to show that there are women out there who are working on construction sites, and women who aren't just doing joinery but other trades too. Also, the sector could go into colleges like Edinburgh College and advise on job opportunities and work placements so that women and girls can have a feel for what happens day to day on a construction site.
What is coming up next for you and Barratt?
I am currently doing my third year at college which is the Advanced Craft course in carpentry and joinery. I only have one year left of my apprenticeship with Barratt Homes. After that I am hoping that Barratt Homes will keep me on as a customer care joiner or even let me go into the Barratt Homes academy to train for an assistant manager role on a site.