Gender was very much on the agenda when key members of the Hinkley Point C project got together to discuss ways to encourage more women to pull on their hard hats and enter the traditionally male-dominated world of construction.
Around 60 Hinkley Point C project staff and contract partners met at EDF Energy’s flagship training facility at Cannington Court for a day of seminars, workshops and presentations.
The aim was to breakdown both the real and perceived barriers which were preventing women from joining the construction and engineering industries.
It is estimated that just 10 to 12 per cent of people working in the UK’s construction industry are female.
The event was held in the same week as International Women’s Day and was organised by Emma McDaid, head of the Hinkley Point C Women’s Network and member of the project’s construction management team.
Emma said: “The benefits of a diverse workforce are very real for businesses; diverse workforces out-think, out-innovate and out-perform their competitors.
“The challenge we face in the construction industry is making sure that we appeal to the widest possible pool of talent in order to attract the skills we require.”
EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C project will generate 25,000 employment opportunities during construction and 900 permanent jobs over its 60 years of operation.
Delegates were given an overview of the work done so far through the Hinkley Point C Inspire education programme, which encourages young people in Somerset to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics - known as STEM subjects.
The Hinkley Point C Inspire Programme, in partnership with local colleges, runs a successful Women Into Construction and Engineering initiative which is helping young women discover the huge array of opportunities available in a career they may have never considered.
“We’ve got an opportunity with Hinkley Point C to create a lasting legacy of construction industry skills for the UK,” said Barbara Jones, Human Resources Director for EDF Energy Nuclear New Build.
She added: “If we engage with young people now and get them thinking about the opportunities on offer for them in STEM related subjects then we can help them on a path that leads them through education, skills and hopefully into employment in one of the many future STEM jobs that will be available - at EDF Energy and beyond.”
Speakers on the day included Caroline Blackman (above), a director with contract partner Laing O’Rourke.
She said the company had been working hard to embed an inclusive culture from the very start of its involvement with the Hinkley Point C project.
And she threw down the gauntlet to delegates: “What do we want the legacy of Hinkley Point C to be? We have a real opportunity in this project to move forward on gender parity in the construction industry.”
Laing O’Rourke and Bouygues TP are the preferred delivery partners for the main civil engineering and construction works at Hinkley Point C.