Encon Construction: Career Changers – Women into Construction

Encon Construction are a civil engineering & building company, working throughout Wales and the South West. We specialise in all forms of construction and civil works, with high levels of engineering, and are experienced in all forms of contracts. We pride ourselves in being an inclusive and innovative business and believe our success can be attributed to our commitment to and from our staff. We believe in investing in our workforce through CPD, attracting new recruits into the industry such as apprentices, trainees and our Women into Construction Career Changer Project. Encon is one of 200 accredited Living Wage Employers in Wales, and 4700 Employers in the UK who have made the commitment, which is a demonstration of Encon’s commitment to being a responsible business and employer.

We identified a need to deliver a solution to gender diversity that was more than just a tick box, and a model that could be embedded and replicated at scale, so we applied for a CITB commission to deliver a project to support female Career Changers into Trade roles whilst also addressing organisational culture and retention.

We were successfully awarded and have been running the CareerChangers project for a year. In that time, we’ve successfully recruited 18 Female Career Changers into P&D, Plastering and Plant & matched them with Host employers for a year at minimum wage or above (as opposed to apprenticeship rate of £3.90) whilst they retrain. We’ve also funded candidates to undertake several short courses to ensure site readiness and provided monthly group CPD workshops and an individual mentor to support their transition into construction.

We’ve launched a mentoring scheme that has upskilled over 80 women working in construction, housing & the built environment as mentors and will see them matched not only with our career changers but with other women across all levels and disciplines that would like mentor support. We’ve also provided ILM qualifications to ensure the sustainability and expansion of Mentor training on completion of our project.

We’ve offered free Unconscious bias training for Managers having already trained over 40 individuals with 3 more training sessions in the pipeline and are due to deliver free Agile Organisation Training to support Senior leaders in making their businesses profitable and attractive to a wider talent pool.

We are undertaking research specific to construction that will explore opportunities for business improvement and greater diversity and supporting small businesses to implement best practice through the creation and sharing of our Recruitment & Retention best practice toolkit.

We are just coming to the end of our first year and have already received extraordinary support from industry.  We have exceeded project targets within small geographical pockets and are already looking at expanding the model to ensure companies that want to take positive action are supported to do so.  We believe that Encon are a small business taking big steps to address the gender divide in our industry, demonstrating the power of collective action and laying the foundations for new ways of working.

Key achievements

  • Trained over 80 women working in construction as mentors – 19 undertaking ILM Qualification in Coaching & Mentoring
  • Trained over 40 managers in unconscious bias to Date
  • Really high Career Changer Apprentice retention rate with only 1 candidate leaving the programme