Bridging gender divide in joinery apprenticeships

Bridging gender divide in joinery apprenticeships

Stockport College is blazing a trail in trades apprenticeships by providing the first female joiners for a leading housing company.

Jenny Cooper and Gabriella Bohajczuk’s preparation in joinery machinery, tools, maths and woodwork made the young women top picks from 34 applicants for Stockport Homes, which received a gold UK Employee Award thin 2019 for health and wellbeing.

Jenny Cooper, 19, from Romiley, who was the only female to compete in joinery in Greater Manchester College’s Group Competition earlier this year, said: “I only meet the challenges of being female in a traditionally male dominated industry, when I try to show men what to do. My dad’s so proud of me, he’s still buying me new tools.”

Both Jenny and Gabriella first became interested in trades through their grandfathers, with Gabriella’s a former employee of wooden container supplier JP Toolboards of Hazel Grove and Jenny’s the former owner of do-it-yourself store, The Handyman in Romiley, where she still works at the weekend.

Gabriella was talent-spotted by Stockport College staff after completing a Level 2 course in building furniture. The 24-year-old has since completed a Level 3 in site joinery, which involves timed tasks and a maths test under the guidance of expert tutors who have worked in the industry.

Gabriella of Cobden Edge, Mellor said: “My advice to other girls thinking of going into this type of career is to work hard, concentrate and do what is asked of you. As soon as everyone gets to know you and what you can achieve, other people don’t treat you any differently.”

Both received free toolboxes thanks to Stockport College’s network, on receiving the news they had secured the three-year apprenticeship, which involves four days of paid learning on the job and one day of gaining skills in College.

Jenny will broaden her skills carrying out repair work on empty homes while Gabriella will do bespoke work in public buildings, which includes working on the hundred-year-old doors and locks at Stockport Town Hall.

Operations Manager, Carl Graham, said: “Stockport Homes recently took the decision to add 2 Apprentice joinery positions within the Repair 1st structure, which following a well-publicised advert, brought the interest of multiple applicants including both Gabby and Jenny. Following a stringent shortlisting process, we are delighted that both Gabby and Jenny were successful in obtaining a 3-year apprenticeship with Stockport Homes and the Repair 1st Team.

“In the new role, they will both continue attending Stockport College whilst working with the Repair 1st Team full time to progress their education and practical skills within their chosen trade. It really is an exciting time to be welcoming 2 female Apprentice Joiners into Stockport Homes in this predominantly male dominated industry.”