Lola, 16, didn’t have the best start in life and lives as a “looked after” young person in residential care. Despite the challenges she faced, she hasn’t let anything deter her from chasing her dreams and after spells in several schools, she has now found her forte gaining experience working with a tree surgery company in between studying for her City and Guilds construction qualifications at Preston Vocational Centre.
We caught up with Lola while she was in the middle of building a wall at the Preston-based centre and asked her about her experiences; in particular, what it’s like to be a young woman in what is traditionally seen as a male-dominated profession.
She laughed off the stereotype, saying:
“I’m better than the boys anyway. Boys mess around. I set myself high standards and enjoy all the trades we learn. You just have to be a bit fiery and give as good as you get. They soon stop! The tutors call me The Enforcer!
“I’m pretty handy at all the trades – electrical work, plumbing, bricklaying, plastering and painting and decorating and really enjoy coming to PVC. As well as the practical learning, I’m also studying Maths and English GSCE with Hawthorn Education. I’m in my second year at PVC now, so already have health and safety, joinery, and plumbing certificates. The tutors are all really good and supportive."
Lola comes to PVC on Wednesdays and Thursdays, always making sure she has that all important brew before she looks at the board to see what she’s learning that day! When not at PVC, Lola is busy chipping wood and cutting branches with MR Tree Surgery and also works in a shop over the weekends.
What final piece of advice would Lola give other girls thinking of getting into construction?
“At first you might think you’re not as strong as you are, but you’ll learn that. Be yourself, you’ll be just fine.”