Do women-only college programmes work?

City of Glasgow College run two women-only courses at the college, one in construction, one in engineering. Douglas Morrison, Head of the STEM Industry Academy at college, is passionate about promoting equality within the construction and engineering sectors.

We spoke to Douglas about how these programmes tackle the barriers faced by women in male-dominated environments.

Can you tell us a bit more about the women-only programmes you run?

Positive ActionThe Women in Construction Programme is a good example. It has been introduced in response to a growing demand for female apprentices within the construction industry, the recommendations in Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce and the focus on equality within the Glasgow Regional Outcome Agreement.

There are currently 24 women studying on construction programmes at the College. This represents an increase of 4% on 2014/15 and a female/male gender split of 14.5%/85.4%, significantly above the sector average. Upon completion, many of the students will articulate into mainstream, occupation-specific programmes, or will progress into employment.

How does the college tackle the barriers faced by women in male-dominated industries?

The College works with a range of stakeholders to consider barriers faced by women entering the construction and engineering industries. We are overcoming these barriers in collaboration with our learners by considering start times and attendance considerations for childcare arrangements, organising regular site placements and work experience opportunities and hosting information sessions for employers.

As a result of running these programmes we have established that there is a demand for places on construction and engineering programmes from aspiring female trainees. We have also established that there is a significant demand from industry for female apprentices and technicians. By developing a provision that meets the needs and aspirations of a wide range of stakeholders we are confident that the “Women into” programmes are a sustainable and impactful initiative.

What are your top tips for employers and training providers looking to take positive action?

  • Recognise there is clear evidence to support the benefits of a diverse workforce.
  • Understand your recruitment processes and remove any barriers.
  • Be prepared for small wins initially.
  • Work collaboratively to maximise value.

For more information on the college’s courses and commitment to diversity, visit their website.

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