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Supporting Women in Non-Traditional Trades Training & Employment

WOMEN’STEC shares learner testimonies with EPALE UK as part of European Vocational Skills Week. Find out how WOMEN’STEC is supporting women from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds return to employment non-traditional sectors.

Leanne, joinery student of the year 2016

Pic above: Leanne, joinery student of the year 2016, pictured with Maria Bradley from Gilbert Ash Ltd 

WOMEN’STEC is the largest quality provider of training for women in non-traditional skills in Northern Ireland. Based in Belfast, we enable women to return to employment in non-traditional sectors contributing to promoting a diverse workforce and reducing the skills shortage in the Construction and ICT industries. TEC stands for Training, Enterprise and Childcare, and WOMEN’STEC provides these supports to women, many of whom are socially and economically disadvantaged.

Some of the skills taught at WOMEN’STEC include: Joinery, Furniture Making, Plumbing, Painting and Decorating, Horticulture, Wall and Floor Tiling.  Our courses are complemented with onsite childcare and confidence-building programmes, providing a holistic experience to our students. WOMEN’STEC engages with approximately 200 women each year. Many women progress to further training or to employment/self-employment.

Leanne came to WOMEN’STEC to learn about joinery and plumbing. She enrolled with WOMEN’STEC and began a joinery class and a plumbing class in 2015 which finished in 2016. Leanne comments:

“I achieved a lot out of the courses at WOMEN’STEC - more confidence and a positive outlook, which helped me believe I can do anything. I mostly enjoyed joinery as I love creating things and working with my hands. My brother has his own joinery business so I wanted to be able to use what I learnt to be able to assist in the business. Plumbing was great as we all have been stuck with air locks in our radiators and leaking toilets and now I know how to fix these at home which will save me money in the long run and without relying on a contractor.”

Leanne continues:

 “I also loved meeting new people. Completing the courses with WOMEN’STEC gave me so much more confidence and this resulted in me going out and getting a full-time job just two weeks after my WOMEN’STEC classes ended. If I was going to describe WOMEN’STEC I’d say, ‘amazing people’ and ‘fantastic female role models who teach the classes’. I’d also recommend women to gain new skills in areas that you think or have been told only a man can do, as women can train and work in trades successfully.”


Pic above: Beth with the tray she made in the WOMEN'STEC furniture making class.

Beth completed a Furniture Making course at WOMEN’STEC and comments,

WOMEN’STEC helped me secure a funded place on a Construction Skills Register (CSR) health and safety training course, and WOMEN’STEC worked with me to gain a short placement on a construction site. I’ve had the opportunity to take part in site visits and hear first-hand from contractors such as Gilbert-Ash Ltd about the construction and carpentry aspects of building projects. These opportunities have helped me continue to bring my skills and knowledge up to a more professional level. Because of my increased confidence in myself and my abilities, I'm in a much better position job-wise. I am researching self-employment options, and I have applied for a part-time position within a construction company."

WOMEN’STEC is part funded by the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy, Belfast City Council, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Clanmill Housing Group and private sector organisations, Gilbert-Ash.


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