From education to employment

Girl power! Who says engineering is only for boys?

A local college has seen a dramatic increase in the number of young women signing up for engineering courses

And for any young women considering engineering, 16-year-old South Eastern Regional College (SERC) student Chloe Pollock is a great example of how young woman are embracing the subject and pushing boundaries. Chloe is just one of a handful of young women across the province pursuing a career in the male dominated engineering industry and is one of only two females in her class.

Ballynahinch girl Chloe is in year one of the Level 3 diploma in engineering course at the college, which on completion is the equivalent to three A levels. She that it was the ‘encouragement and support’ from her parents and friends that gave her the confidence to go for what she wanted to do.

After completing her GCSE’s Chloe decided to enol at SERC, as she wanted something ‘hands-on’. But it wasn’t until her friend suggested studying engineering that Chloe realised it was what she wanted to do as a career.

Chloe said: “I decided to study engineering because I love hands-on, practical learning – I find it much easier to remember. My mum and dad were shocked when I told them I wanted to study engineering, as they were not expecting it at all. However, they are very proud of my career choice and are supportive and encouraging. My mum does worry about me being around the machines but she knows I’m in good hands.

“This year I’ve been learning skills such as welding and materials science and I’m really enjoying it. On completion of the course I want to progress to university to specialise in aeronautical or design engineering and studying this course will help me get there.”

Chloe said women should not be dismayed by an all-male workplace and encouraged them to embrace the opportunity to push the boundaries and encouraged other school leavers to follow their dreams. She says “If you are interested in engineering, give it a go. Visit the college open day, speak to the tutors and tour the workshops. It was the best decision I ever made.”

Chloe’s tutor Joe Neeson said: “I think it’s fantastic to see so many women signing up for what have traditionally been seen as male dominated industries. Young women have the skills and talent to excel in the industry and I would encourage them not to be put off by the male-dominated educational environment. Females have a good eye for the finer details and are very organised. We welcome female enrolments on our engineering courses and would encourage more females to enrol.”

Chloe’s mum said, “For many years, I believed traditional education was the correct way to go for a higher standard education. It was a belief that was in my family for generations. Now, having gained first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of what further education offers I would definitely encourage other parents to consider SERC as a first choice for their children. I had heard good things about the staff at SERC, and when Chloe started studying, I could see why. It was an extremely helpful and friendly environment. As a parent I wanted the assurance that the education Chloe received would prepare her to survive in the ‘real world’ and give her an opportunity to improve his employability skills in an increasingly competitive job market.”

College principal Ken Webb said “It’s encouraging to see an increase in the number of women applying to typically male dominated courses. With men outnumbering women by three to one in STEM careers, it is vital to ensure more girls are attracted into the industry. I would encourage more females to study engineering subjects and pursue a career in this exciting industry.

“Parents play a vital role in influencing their children’s career choice – and they are a vital target audience if we want to inspire more young people to take up engineering-related subjects. I would encourage prospective students and their parents to visit our information day on 1st March from 2pm-8pm to see for themselves what the College has to offer.”

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