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Growing up as a boy, I had no shortage of construction toys. But when I wanted a doll, I had to put up quite a fight. Standing up against predefined notions and stereotypical thinking has been a passion of mine ever since. 

My career so far has been in heavily male-dominated industries; I started my journey in the mining industry, moved into mainstream construction and, after time spent in nuclear decommissioning and renewable energies, found my niche in quality assurance back in construction.

I’m a woman, a machinery geek, and like to get my hands dirty. I know I’m not alone in this, yet the current workforce does not reflect thisThroughout my career, I’ve been championing equality of opportunity at work. Joining the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board’s Employer Equalities Group (SAAB EEQ) gives me the opportunity to team up with like-minded people across different sectors to deliver real change.

Broadening the pool of talent 

To me, the rationale behind equalities in recruitment and in the workplace is as simple as this: we need enthusiastic, talented people with the right skills. In many sectors, including in construction, we have wide-ranging skills shortages which will become exacerbated through new and emerging challenges such as Brexit and an ageing demographic. We simply cannot afford to overlook talent any longer.  

Amanda McKay, new member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board’s (SAAB) Employer Equalities Group

"Later this year, I will take up the role of Chair of the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI). This will make me the first transgender chair of any professional body in the UK. Creating routes into the profession – that is what I want my legacy to be." 

Catching people early 

Currently, CQI membership is over 70% male, while in construction the number is closer to 90%. 

These are not figures we can change overnight. But what we can do, is work together to take steps towards this goal. Creating pathways into sectors starts by challenging perceptions. It’s essential we address stereotypes as early as possible, especially in our schools. 

We need to shape the talent for our future now. 

The EEQ has a unique opportunity here. As industry advocates of equality and diversity, we aim to influence policy, the skills and education systems to improve access and participation. 

Creating career paths through apprenticeships 

Foundation Apprenticeships are available as early as S3 and have the potential to inspire pupils at a younger age. Designed to equip young people with an insight into critical sectors, they provide them with key skills and a recognised qualification. Perhaps most importantly, they are the first step in a seamless pathway through the apprenticeship family, leading to a rewarding career. 

Apprenticeships provide clear pathways for progression and produce skilled professionals with just the right balance of practical and theoretical skills – all the best emerging talent I’ve worked with have been apprentices. 

We have a responsibility to make apprenticeships enticing and accessible to everybody. As the voice of industry, SAAB is the vehicle to do just that. 

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