Guinness electrician Helen Colwill
gives evidence to Parliament

08 July 2019

Last week one of Guinness’s Tradeswoman Ambassadors Helen Colwill, and Alistair Smyth, presented evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Built Environment’s inquiry into getting more women into maintenance roles.

Guinness and L&Q were the only housing associations to give evidence as we have been championing the issue for some time and the Parliamentary Group wanted to hear about measures we were taking.

The inquiry was hugely impressed with Helen’s presentation in which she explained how she first got interested in a career as an electrician through a really supportive tutor. She had then become an apprentice with Guinness where she’s been able to work her way up to becoming a qualified and practising electrician. A particular highlight for Helen, last year, was when she was invited to be a special guest speaker at the Houses of Commons, sharing words of encouragement for young women thinking about a career in trades.

Helen and Alistair websiteResponding to questions about how to attract more women into maintenance, Helen talked about her work as a Tradeswoman Ambassador and explained that in her view role models and mentors were hugely important. She suggested that getting the message across to girls in schools that they can work in the trades professions is vital. Finally, she underlined the importance of Guinness being a supportive employer that has encouraged her on her journey.

Alistair explained about Guinness’s ambition to recruit more women into our trades workforce. He highlighted our Kickstart training programmes which allow woman to learn more about working in the trades professions, and our upcoming two-day ‘Advocates for Women in Manual Trades’ event, where we are partnering up with other housing associations and maintenance organisations, to see how organisations can support more women to get into manual trades across the country.

The inquiry’s report will be launched in the autumn. The commissioners at the hearing were Eddie Hughes MP, Amanda Clack (Executive Director and Head of Strategic Advisory, CBRE), Tony Burton, Senior Partner at Gardiner & Theobald LLP, and Graham Watts (Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Council).