Hull woman is first female bricklaying apprentice for Mitchell & Urwin
A young woman from Hull is proving that bricklaying isn’t just a job for blokes. Beth Skinner, aged 18, is the first female bricklaying apprentice to join the Mitchell & Urwin Academy, which recently won a national CITB award for its investment in apprentices.
Beth, who was selected as an apprentice in July last year, has been impressing her team with her skills and work ethic. She is studying her NVQ in bricklaying at Hull College while working at a Keepmoat Homes site in Hull to get on-the-job experience. As part of the Apprentice Academy, she also has an assigned mentor to provide daily training as well as regular off site training sessions on issues like safety.
Despite the fact that 99% of the UK construction industry is male, Bethany wasn’t put off.
“Bricklaying wasn’t my original plan, but after getting a taste of it during my multi-skill diploma and NVQ at Hull Training, I knew I wanted to do more. Being the only female in the Academy on induction day was pretty daunting but the Mitchell and Urwin staff helped me settle in and treated me as part of the team. They were amazing and have gone way beyond what I expected from a company,” Beth explains.
The Mitchell & Urwin Apprentice Academy offers young people the chance to get vocational training and on site experience, plus daily mentoring and a good wage. If they have ambition and show potential, the apprentices can even pursue a career in site or construction management. The company has employed and trained 49 apprentices over the last three years, making up 25% of its on site workforce. It plans to grow this even more in the future.
“It’s brilliant that Beth is helping to break down the perception that construction is just for men. The construction industry needs to bring on the next generation of builders, male and female. We’re doing what we can to train local people, to build local homes, for local communities,” says Richard Urwin, founder of Mitchell & Urwin.
Beth has some advice for any other women thinking about taking up the trade: “Being the only girl in a male dominated environment has been tough at times. I feel like I have to work harder to prove that I’m serious about what I do. But I would absolutely encourage other women to get into this trade. It’s hugely satisfying. You have to have passion, drive and the ability to have a good laugh with your team. I love being able to learn a skill, grafting everyday in all weathers. I couldn’t sit in an office all day.”
Could you become a Mitchell & Urwin Apprentice bricklayer?
- you love to work outdoors
- you like to see the results of your hard work at the end of each day
- you want each day to be different
- you like to feel pride in the work you do
- you’re driven, committed and passionate
- you’re a team player with good communication skills
- you have achieved A to C grades in English and Maths
- you want to have great earning potential
- you potentially want a stepping stone into a bigger role in the building industry
- working 39 hours a week
- you live in Yorkshire (all of the Mitchell & Urwin build sites are in Yorkshire)
The M&U Apprentice programme includes:
- up to a four-year apprentice framework
- on-site bricklaying experience while attending college on a day or block release programme
- apprentices can join straight from school, midway through college or once their course is completed
- they are paired with an apprentice partner – their first two-and-one gang
- they have a dedicated mentor who will work side by side with them for unparalleled levels of continuity and support
- Branded work clothing and tools of the trade
- Ongoing group training sessions covering issues like safety
- Weekly wages based on minimum wage for their age
- The offer of a permanent role with Mitchell & Urwin or at a client
- The opportunity to fulfil their ambition to become a site manager, quantity surveyor or architect for those who show the aptitude