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CDE builds up young women in construction

Women are increasing their influence in the Northern Ireland (NI) construction sector and CDE, the Cookstown, NI-based international design and engineering wet processing equipment company, is determined to support them in this endeavour. 

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Recently, young leaders who work in Norther Ireland’s construction materials industry under the umbrella of QPANI visited CDE to learn from the company’s approach to diversity issues. 
Image credit: CDE

Today’s construction materials industry offers wider-ranging career opportunities than ever before. Aside from requiring site and factory staff, CDE is always on the lookout for experts in environmental technologies, electrical engineering and many other fields. This increasingly diverse job sector 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.

Recently, a 15-strong group of young leaders who work in the local construction materials industry, under the umbrella of Quarry Product Association NI (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.

CDE talent director Claire Colvin became involved in the company’s diversity work at an early stage and welcomed the interest of the group in CDE’s diversity ethos. “Despite enduring misconceptions, gender in construction has become irrelevant,” she says. “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.”

Catherine Keenan, company solicitor and manager at NI’s Creagh Concrete Products, participated in the group visit to CDE. She reflects, “CDE is 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 adds that, “60% of CDE employees are aged under 29 years old 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.

 “CDE has become extremely successful thanks to its focus on innovation. We focus on recruiting talented and creative individuals who can make a difference to the industry. Our staff are typically a combination of experienced professionals and young graduates who we nurture throughout the course of their career development,” Colvin adds. “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.

“All the way back to 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 at CDE we are determined to continue engaging with women and help them to reach their professional ambitions on an even keel to men.”

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