From education to employment

Leading football MD says women can achieve their potential.

One of the country’s top female MDs is calling on women to take the plunge into non-traditional sectors of work to boost their own potential and add a possible £15-23 billion to the UK economy.

Karren Brady, managing director of Birmingham City FC, is this week calling on women to participate in the Women & Work project, a £10 million initiative launched in 2006 by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The project is directing women into more traditionally male-orientated areas where there are skills shortages, providing recruitment and career opportunities in nine sectors including construction, environment and land-based industries, automotive retail and science and engineering.

“There has been progress since I started out but the glass ceiling still exists for women in the UK,” said Karren Brady, “only 33 per cent of managers and senior officials in business and the public sector are female.” At 23, Ms Brady was one of the first women in the UK to hold the position of MD in English football, with Birmingham City FC, and now provides mentoring and training programmes for her own employees.

“Women are the hidden asset in ambitious companies looking to increase productivity,” she added. “Working with Sector Skills Councils to unlock the potential of women in the labour market could be worth between £15 and £23 billion to the UK economy.”

The project aims to help up to 10,000 women and will run for two years, with skills training and support being funded by the Government and employer contributions. “It is crucial that we challenge traditional perceptions and break down the barriers to women advancing in non-traditional roles,” continued Ms Brady.

“According to research, two thirds of women work in only 12 occupational areas ““ mainly cleaning, catering, clerical, retail, caring and first level management. Initiatives such as Women & Work are much needed to ensure that women progress through the ranks. But they must grab the opportunities that are created.”

David Lammy, Minister for Skills, said: “We are investing £10m to address the skills gender imbalance. It’s about getting a better deal for women and for all of us, as this has the potential to bring a greater rate of return to our economy and to our society as a whole.”

Annabel Hardy

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