The third annual Women in Roofing conference took place last week, 14th March 2018 with over 120 people attending the Radisson Blu Hotel at East Midlands Airport, Derbyshire, from all parts of the UK roofing sector.
Declaring the day a success, organisers, Women in Roofing, were delighted to see the range of actions emerging as a result of the conference.
Conference attendees shared experiences and gained contacts and opportunities through networking. They also each pledged an action to follow the conference with the aim of addressing the skills shortage and promoting roofing as a career. Pledges included going to schools and colleges to educate young people about roofing as a career, recruiting more apprentices and trainees, and positively promoting UK roofing to business and personal contacts.
Director of Women in Roofing, Denise Cherry said “It’s so encouraging to see the actions that have come from the conference. People have made new contacts, they’ve pledged a range of actions to take back to their companies to promote the roofing sector. And they’ve been inspired. I received a long, heartfelt email from one conference attendee who has been encouraged by Dr Dave Healy’s talk to challenge a situation they face.”
Another action that stemmed from the conference was the training of 20 Construction Ambassadors by CITB who will promote roofing as a career in schools and colleges.
The ambassadors will be supported by the publication of a ‘Reflections on Roofing’ brochure, which features inspiring women roofing apprentices, roofers, roofing business owners and an ethnically diverse contractor – some of whom also spoke at the conference.
The brochure aims to demonstrate the diversity of people working in roofing and inspire others, no matter what their background, to consider a career in the sector. It is available free of charge for anyone to use who is promoting roofing as a career to young people.
Printed copies can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This third Women in Roofing Conference also saw the first recipients announced of two inaugural awards sponsored by Cembrit UK. Lesley Cage at Karl Austerfield Roofing received the Ellie Coulter Business Excellence Award and Abigail Mormone of M&J Group won the Maureen Johnson Rising Star Award.
Delegates also heard from several industry speakers, including an interesting and amusing talk by Jane Nelson, executive director of Mears Group PLC who analysed the causes of why women are under-represented in UK construction trades. Racheal Valderama from Mates in Mind spoke about the industry campaign to remove stigma about mental health and get construction workers to talk to each other and ask for support before reaching crisis point.
Conference visitors also heard inspiring talks from Lauren Pollitt, a woman roofer, who attended the conference for the second year, speaking about her experiences on the tools. Interestingly, later in the day Elizabeth Jovanic, head of HR at Lauren’s employer, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group also spoke of the HR policies that encourage a fair and equal recruitment practice where women can thrive and attain promotion in the organisation.
“It’s inspiring for us as an organisation to see how the numbers of women in roofing are growing. In the first year that we held a conference there were no women roofers attending, last year there was one. This year there are half a dozen. I hope in years to come we will see numbers break into the tens and then hundreds!”, Denise Cherry commented.
Simeone Johnson, a black roofing contractor in Scarborough spoke of his experiences setting up a roofing business as an ex-offender and being a role model for young people with similar backgrounds.
Francoise Derken from Midland Lead spoke about how the company developed workplace wellbeing, Mark Dunn from Langley Waterproofing explained how a colleague experiencing serious stress is being supported to return to work, and Jayne Fergusson from National Construction Training Services talked about the challenges of the skills shortage.
The day’s speakers finished with a talk by Dr ‘Blind’ Dave Healy who gave an amusing and inspiring account of his many amazing adventures and achievements despite losing his sight, such as completing 10 marathons in 10 days from John O’Groats to Lands End and seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.
The day concluded with a conference dinner and dance with a live band.