This week (6-12 February) marks National Apprenticeship Week. With the current skills shortage and the challenge of encouraging more women into construction, Merseyside housing association, Livv Housing Group, is proud to have welcomed its first female painting and decorating apprentice.
Leila Jones, 18 from Kirkby, joined Livv in September 2022. Working within the Livv Maintenance function of the business, Leila is gaining invaluable experience whilst studying for her Level 2 Apprenticeship in Painting and Decorating at St Helens College.
The three-year apprenticeship programme will give her the skills and knowledge to become a fully qualified painter and decorator.
Paving the way
After leaving school with no qualifications, Leila felt her options were limited. With her uncle and brother already working in the trades, she was inspired into choosing a career path that allowed her to be more ‘hands-on’.
She said: “I went to college for two years and completed my Level 1 and Level 2 certificates in painting and decorating. This gave me a good introduction to the field but I knew that I wanted to get out there and gain real world experience. I learn a lot better by seeing and doing, and I think that’s the great benefit of an apprenticeship.
“I’m really happy to have found a place here at Livv and I’ve loved my time here so far.”
Leila works closely with a team of experienced tradespeople out on site. She paints and decorates different Livv properties including communal areas and tower blocks, empty homes as well going into customers’ homes to work on repairs.
She continued: “Working in a male-dominated industry hasn’t fazed me at all. My team made me feel welcome from day one. I fitted in straight away and I get along well with everyone. I get stuck in like the rest of them and they don’t treat me any different just because I’m a girl. I know what I’m capable of and if I’m ever unsure, I’m not afraid or ashamed to ask for help. They’re all extremely supportive of me.
“As the only female trade-based apprentice in the business [and across the whole maintenance team], I don’t see this as a challenge or a disadvantage at all. I see it as an opportunity for me to set the bar. I think we should definitely be encouraging more women into construction, and I’d love to inspire and pave the way for other young people like me.”
“The best thing about being a painting and decorating apprentice is that I’m making a difference to our customers. Whether it’s a single mum or an elderly grandma that I’m doing a job for, I’m helping to make their home a nicer place to live. Putting a smile on their faces feels really rewarding.”
This year’s National Apprenticeship Week theme is ‘Skills for Life’. And for individuals like Leila, her apprenticeship will equip her with the skills to take forward in her career.
Sharon Marsh, Executive Director of Resources at Livv Housing Group, said: “As a business, we’re always continuing to invest in the next generation and our apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to earn while they learn. With the importance of breaking down barriers for women in construction, as well as the current skills shortage in the sector, we’re really pleased to have recently welcomed our first female painting and decorating apprentice.
“I hope that Leila will inspire other young women to follow in her footsteps and choose a career in the trades.”
Livv Housing Group is one of the largest apprenticeship providers in the Knowsley borough. Over the past 10 years, the Prescot-based housing association has helped around 170 young people secure roles.
Ring-fenced for 16 to 24-year-olds living in the Knowsley borough, Livv’s apprenticeship programmes span a range of areas including marketing, facilities management, finance, joinery, plumbing, homes sales and business intelligence.
To find out more about Livv Housing Group visit www.livvhousinggroup.com