First all-female apprentice team prepare for Forterra bricklaying challenge
This National Apprenticeship Week (5th -11th February 2024), Lewisham College and Lee Marley Academy are proud to be entering the first all-female team to compete in Forterra’s fourth annual London Apprenticeship Challenge.
The Forterra London Apprenticeship Challenge, hosted at Lewisham College, sees 15 London-based apprentice bricklayers compete in teams of three to show off their newly learned skills. A selection of challenges test the apprentices’ practical skills, time management and ability to fulfil a brief. As part of Forterra’s Construction Hub programme the competition uses Forterra’s donated iconic London Bricks.
17-year-old apprentices, Morgan O’Sullivan, and Millie Boyle are two of the three team members selected from internal competitions.
Currently in their first year of the two-year course, Morgan and Millie are both working towards their Level 2 Brick Layer Standard apprenticeship and, as female apprentices tackling the challenge, are also setting out to prove that female construction workers are just as skilled as their male counterparts.
Morgan said, “I knew I wanted to be in trade and my dad, who is a carpenter and general builder, played a huge part in choosing to apply for an apprenticeship. I found I was drawn to bricklaying as I like the fact that I can build something and be proud of the final product.
“I also wanted to prove people wrong; I was told that a career in construction wasn’t for me. Through my apprenticeship and by competing in this challenge I can prove women are just as skilled as men. After my apprenticeship I’m aiming to go into a supervising role to help other apprentices and become an ambassador for other girls coming into construction.”
Millie said “Like Morgan, I was also inspired by a family member. My grandad, Jim Dockerty used to work for Lee Marley and I always wanted to be a hands on worker. An apprenticeship just seemed like the natural and best way to get into trade. It’s a fantastic way to earn and learn together. I really enjoy learning on site as it’s such a supportive environment and everyone wants to see you succeed.
“For anyone else looking to do an apprenticeship I would say don’t be scared or worry about what other people think. It’s a great way to learn practical skills and it’s important to keep teaching these types of skills. Being entered for this competition is a great opportunity to showcase my skill set and develop confidence. I hope to go into management or supervisory roles, especially site management or even work my way to be a project manager.”
Bob Noseda, Sector Skills Advisor at Lewisham College, said: “We are thrilled to be able to host the Forterra London Apprentice Challenge again, and can support the all-female team from Lee Marley Academy. With less than 500* women in bricklaying roles, encouraging more women to enter the construction world is an important and crucial step into showing this industry can be for everyone.
“Utilising the apprenticeship path to learn on the job is one of the best ways to acquire the skills and experience needed to progress. It’s wonderful that as part of the Construction Hub programme Forterra encourages students in the industry, providing them with resources and support. We look forward to seeing the team compete this year and hope it stands as a testament to the talent of female apprentices of which we hope to see more.”
Caroline Wildman, Marketing Director at Forterra said: “We place great importance on education at Forterra and are delighted to provide opportunities to support upcoming bricklayers through our London Apprenticeship Challenge. It’s fantastic to see an all-female team prepare for the upcoming competition and showcase their skills emerging from the apprenticeship scheme, and we look forward to seeing these students progress in their careers.”
National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) 2024 is the 17th annual celebration of apprenticeships to recognise the value, benefit and opportunity that they bring. The theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2024 is “Skills for Life”.
The Forterra London Apprenticeship Challenge will take place at Lewisham College on the 21st March. Individual and team winners will be selected by a panel of judges made up of industry experts.
*Data from the Office for National Statistics.