Survey on Role of Women in the Electrical Industry

19 May 2017     JTL


Leading work-based learning provider JTL has responded to the findings of the Jobs for the Girls survey originally commissioned by Certsure and supplemented by a further survey by the JIB of its members, using the question set designed by Certsure. JTL has a vested interest in the future of young women in the electrical sector and has launched its own Ambassador campaign targeting young women in particular as potential recruits for electrical apprenticeships across England and Wales.

The JIB survey was issued to 831 JIB representatives and focused on representatives who are the parents, carer or guardian of a daughter, although there were 14 responses from respondents without a daughter.

82% of respondents would be happy if their daughter took up a career as an electrician. However only 8% of their daughters had ever considered an electrical career – and that may seem low for a group of girls who have a parent working in the electrical industry.

While 92% of those responding said that being an electrician is a suitable career for a woman, 69% also stated that the attitude experienced on site is the main factor that would put them off encouraging their daughter to take up a career in the industry. For some respondents, attitudes towards women as electricians have moved a long way whilst for others, not nearly enough.

Numerous comments were made in the survey suggesting that becoming an electrician is not a natural career choice for girls – with 77% of respondents saying they did not believe that their daughter had been given information about trades at school and 87% saying they felt that more should be done at school to encourage young women to become electricians.

Interestingly, 60% of respondents claimed they would encourage an apprenticeship over university, on the grounds that it provides hands on experience, avoids getting into debt and unlike university, leads to a job.

JTL’s Diversity and Equality Manager is Yasmin Damree Ralph: “Those of us who work in the building engineering services sector know that whilst it is overwhelmingly male dominated, it doesn’t need to be. We have a large number of very able young women who have qualified or who are currently taking their apprenticeships with a view to becoming an electrician. And the girls are every bit as good at these jobs as their male counterparts.  They do have to overcome the initial concerns about working in what many see as a ‘man’s world’ but once they have addressed this, most girls report back that far from being a negative, their gender is seen as a positive, by employers and fellow workers. The important thing for girls who consider taking apprenticeships in these sectors is to have good role models, women who have done it before and who are willing to help them to see beyond the initial issues. I devised the Ambassadors programme at JTL to encourage girls who are already in the sectors to work with us to encourage other young women to consider the options available to them. And it’s working. In 2016 we had 834 female applicants for apprenticeships in the Building Services Engineering sector that’s a good increase when you see we had just 356 applicants in 2013 – so we’re seeing healthy increases year on year It’s working!”   

One of JTL’s former apprentices, now a qualified electrician working in Gloucestershire is Samantha Jones: “After leaving school I worked for a year to save up to send myself to Brighton Institute of Modern Music where I completed a diploma in music. I then worked in the care industry for several years before I felt the need of a more challenging career. My dad suggested the idea of me becoming an electrician – not something that I had seriously considered as an option – but the idea did appeal to me.

“I would recommend this career path to anyone – especially girls,” she says. “It’s not as scary as you might think initially. If you like the practical side of things, then taking up a trade makes huge sense – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a girl or a guy. I decided an apprenticeship was right for me and I’ve never looked back on that decision. For me the chance to earn while I learned made huge sense and it has given me the chance, with my employer, not only to carry out commercial and domestic installation work but also to carry out installation work at one of our best local manufacturing plants – SPP Pumps in Coleford in the Forest of Dean. This has given me excellent experience with regard to the electrical and mechanical requirements that exist within the oil and gas industries.”

Not content to just complete her apprenticeship, Sam was persuaded to enter a prestigious apprentice exchange scheme – the JIB (Joint Industry Board) Overseas Apprentice Exchange Scheme for 2016 – and won it. She spent six weeks in the USA working alongside other women electricians – her first job was up the Empire State Building! Her placement was on the 67th Floor helping to complete a refurbishment of an office block. She had a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the building which included an amazing view across New York from the observation room, walking around the outside of the mast on the service deck that contains all the antennas for the building – just as well she has a head for heights. Subsequently she worked on the Sony office at 11, Madison Avenue, St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, the offices of Google and finally Madison Square Gardens, where she had the privilege of helping install a brand new HD Projector system in the roof over the stadium.

She was then shortlisted in the Women in Construction Awards and was recently invited by Unite the Union to represent them at the global Building and WoodWorker's International women’s conference which saw her heading off to Nepal to talk about her experiences. Following the apprenticeship route has certainly opened up a world of experiences for this intelligent young woman.

What advice would she give other young women considering following a career in electrical contracting work?

“Do it!” she says without any hesitation. The electrical sector is a diverse one and you can develop your career in whichever direction you want to. You could be wiring new homes or wiring a Formula 1 car. The opportunities are many and various. I’d urge any young woman or young man for that matter – give it a go and open as many doors as possible. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn a trade and get paid for doing it. And the longer term prospects are huge and exciting.”

JTL Female Apprentices

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