Attacking the Skills Gap – Worksmart’s First Female Apprentice Joiner

Hi, I’m Briony, Worksmart’s first female joinery apprentice!

I’m here to tell you all about why I’ve chosen joinery as a career and go into the pros and cons of working within a male dominated environment as a female joinery apprentice. I’ve not always wanted to be a joiner; over the years – like a lot of people – I’ve changed my mind countless times from civil engineering to geology to forestry.

Finally, after a good friend of mine completed carpentry/joinery course at college, I decide to give it go; turns out I love it! I’m not a hundred percent sure why I enjoy it so much but I do know that I just love building, I always have. So what better way to combine my career with what I thrive on doing?

I began my apprenticeship with Worksmart in June this year after completing 2 years at college, first an NPA in carpentry and joinery then the next level up: a City and Guilds qualification. This led me to Worksmart, as they were carrying out work at Ayrshire College in Ayr while I was doing my course. Good news for me. Next thing I know I’ve got the job and my 2 years of hard work has paid off and I’m officially Worksmart’s first ever female joinery apprentice!

Now, I know there are some people out there who question the path I’ve taken: a job in a predominately male field that has lots of heavy lifting, especially when I’m short, skinny and female. Understandable concerns. There are a few downsides and you can feel a little left out sometimes, but who doesn’t when they start a new job?

Ultimately however, I’ve found that you have to do what you want in life. And although some people may have negative opinions towards my choices, I’ve only ever had support from family, friends etc.

If you get stuck in and work hard, any feelings of doubt will disappear and in a few weeks you’re just one of the guys. Personally, I’ve never had any trouble within such an environment as I’ve never stood for anything but equality. I sometimes feel like I have to try harder than everyone else and that I’m out to prove something. However, if you want to be there and put your all into your work there won’t be a problem.

Now to the pros, there are plenty I could list but I’ll just stick to a few. Firstly, you get to try out lots of fun things like using machinery which I would never otherwise be able to use. You also get to learn directly from people who have years of experience within the industry. I’ve found that it’s mostly just like working anywhere else. If you need help, ask and you’ll get it. If you don’t understand something, ask and it will be explained to you.

I’d like to credit all the guys I’ve worked with so far as they’ve been brilliant and treated me no differently than they would treat a male apprentice. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity or a more accepting company to begin my career as a joiner.