In-house training encourages women to join our factory

Posted on: Mar 11, 2020

Preconceptions of women in construction are changing. Building sites and factory workshops are no longer considered female-free zones and the industry nationwide is working to recruit more women into what has been, traditionally, a male-dominated industry.  

Although the industry has been trying to tackle the perceptions and close the gender gap, young women are often reluctant to consider a career in construction, particularly if they have no relevant skills or experience in the sector.

Factory operative, Aimee Bascombe, was a self-confessed ‘DIY disaster zone’ before she started working for Stewart Milne Timber Systems. In the past six months Aimee has not only been trained on the machinery she handles daily but has gained skills and confidence as a tradesperson.

“Before, if something was broken around the house, I would ask a friend or pay for someone to fix it. Now I’ll give it a go myself because I now know I’m good with my hands. I really enjoy the work that I do. I applied to Stewart Milne Timber Systems because I wanted a change from my previous job but now I really feel like I’ve found my vocation; a job that fits my lifestyle and skill set. I wish I’d made the move sooner.”

She added: “I didn’t have any experience in construction, but I was unhappy in my previous job as a courier. My friend, who was working at Stewart Milne, recommended that I looked into the job opportunities available. They knew that I liked working on my feet and figured I would be attracted by the manual aspect of the job. She also spoke highly of the training on offer, as well as the flexible company benefits including private healthcare, dental insurance and a good pension scheme.”

Although Aimee had never worked in the construction industry before, she was keen to learn new skills and believed Stewart Milne Timber Systems would give her all the support required to develop and hone her skills.

Since starting, Aimee’s confidence has grown, so much so that she has even delivered training to newer members of staff, including new colleague, Sarah Gall, another factory operative who started five months ago.

Aimee Bascombe, Factory Operative
Amy Bascombe Factory Operative 


Previously in logistics, Sarah joined Stewart Milne Timber Systems with a background in HGV transport before moving to the factory for a more hands-on role. With no previous experience of working with timber-cutting machinery or in a factory, Sarah has already become a valuable member of the factory team.

Stewart Milne Group recognises that a lack of experience doesn’t mean a candidate doesn’t have the skills necessary to become a valuable employee. In-house training and mentoring from experienced operatives and management allows previously inexperienced recruits to flourish and a dedicated factory trainer has been appointed to allow all employees to develop.

Stevie Mitchell, factory manager at Westhill explains: “By providing our own in-house training, we can tailor the content of courses specifically to the needs of our business and our staff. This allows employees to gain the knowledge they need and develop their skills without leaving the factory.

“New recruits are not required to be highly skilled to begin with because our quality in-house training equips them with the skills they need and avoids the ‘bad habits’ that can be picked up from previous experience. As a result, we know that our staff are working the ‘Stewart Milne Way’ and to the high standard we expect.

“As well as ensuring quality of work, by training groups of staff together there is an element of team building that would be missed if staff were trained externally by people they’ve never met.

Both female factory operatives believe that the trepidation of entering the construction industry is worse than the reality and Aimee would encourage any woman considering it to take the plunge. She said: “Just go for it. I know it can be intimidating and you will be worried about how you’ll be treated working in a male dominated industry but breaking those barriers is never a bad thing. I am just as appreciated as my male colleagues and you’ll feel like one of the team in no time.”