QPANI delegation focuses on and learns from CDE approach to gender diversity in the construction sector
BRICK by brick, women are building influence in the Northern Ireland construction sector, and Cookstown-based wet processing equipment company CDE say they are determined to support them in this endeavour.
Today, a 15-strong group of young leaders who work in the local construction materials industry, under the umbrella of the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland (QPANI), visited CDE to learn from the company’s approach to diversity issues and to feed into its drive for solutions.
The group included young women poised to become the new diversity champions of the local construction materials industry.
Claire Colvin, talent director at CDE, became involved at an early stage and welcomed the interest of the group in the company’s diversity ethos: ‘Despite enduring misconceptions, gender in construction has become irrelevant,’ she said.
‘CDE’s message to our visitors today is that there should be no barriers for young women to becoming successful professionals in the engineering and construction materials industry, where the shortage of skills to cover demand gives them an opportunity to impose themselves as a vital part of its future.
‘Today’s construction materials industry offers wider-ranging career opportunities than ever before. Aside from requiring site and factory staff, CDE are always on the lookout for experts in environmental technologies, electrical engineering and many other fields.
‘This increasingly diverse job offer presents opportunities to both young men and women who wish to embark on technical degree courses in the knowledge that there will be equal job opportunities after graduating.’
Catherine Keenan, company solicitor and manager at Creagh Concrete Products Ltd, participated in the group visit to CDE. She reflected: ‘CDE are an inspiration in as much as our visit has demonstrated that young people who choose a career in construction materials can think big, reach high and achieve a fulfilling career in the industry field of their choice, regardless of gender.
‘Over the years our company has worked closely with CDE on a number of projects and we have always been impressed by their diverse range of staff and expertise.’
QPANI regional director Gordon Best added: ‘Sixty per cent of CDE’s employees are under 29 years of age, and, as such, the company provides an exciting opportunity for the ‘Young Leaders’ group to be inspired by its dedication to encouraging and nurturing graduates.
‘On this trip, the group opted for a focus on the gender gap in the construction materials sector. There is still a long way to go for professional women to impose themselves in the construction industry, but going by today’s dynamic and optimistic discussions, the future is bright.
‘At QPANI, we have made it our mission to promote gender diversity as an essential part of the Northern Ireland construction materials industry’s success, and we were delighted to support today’s visit to CDE.
‘The next step is to identify champions who will represent the industry across different platforms such as Women’s Tec, the largest quality provider of training for women in non-traditional skills in Northern Ireland.’
Claire Colvin concluded: ‘CDE have become extremely successful thanks to their focus on innovation. We focus on recruiting talented and creative individuals who can make a difference to the industry. Our staff typically consists of a combination of experienced professionals and young graduates who we nurture throughout the course of their career development.
‘Women are an essential part of this balance of expertise and bring a vital perspective to our work that helps us stay on top of our field.
‘Way back in 1811, a woman patented the design for the Clifton Suspension Bridge’s piling foundations in Bristol; Sarah Guppy proved that women have their place in the construction industry, and here at CDE we are determined to continue engaging with women and help them reach their professional ambitions on an even keel to men.’