Proving that women can forge a successful career in the electrical industry, the team at Rated People share the story behind the rise of Amy’s Electrics.
Amy Nicholson, owner of Amy’s Electrics, has worked with female electricians for over a decade and has owned her own company for the last five years. After being trained by an electrician who saw an opportunity to get more women into the industry, Amy is passionate about helping more women to see the amazing opportunities available to them. Here’s her story:
Getting into the industry
Amy became an electrician when she was 26 after meeting a woman who was a plasterer. This was the first time she had ever seen a woman working within the trades sector and it was never something that she considered, mainly because it had not been suggested to her at school as a possible career path.
Thinking back to school, Amy unfortunately recalls that those who went into the trades were thought of as academically weak, or not clever enough to go to university. She thinks this misconception needs to change, and believes that the decision to follow her current career choice ‘is the best thing she has ever done’.
Amy found a well-respected electrician, Kaye, who was keen to help young women by giving them the skills that they needed to succeed in a professional trade. Kaye acted as huge source of inspiration throughout Amy’s career and gave Amy the passion to ensure future tradeswomen are made to feel welcome and given the correct training for the future. This led to the formation of Amy’s Electrics.
As somebody who wants to see more women coming through the ranks, Amy doesn’t like that the workforce is often referred to as ‘tradesmen.’ She finds it upsetting that it’s the blanket term that’s used to describe women, such as herself and her team.
“On social media I’m part of a group of over 800 electricians who are women – and that’s just electricians! There are so many of us who aren’t represented by that term,” she says.
Representation of women in the field
When Amy started training, she was working with other women who had experienced discrimination in the workplace. One of her colleagues remembers one job where men put down their power tools and shouted to ask why women were working on-site. Another experienced tradesmen very kindly ripped out the women’s toilet on-site to prevent them from being able to work on the job.
Amy says: “If only more young girls were given the same opportunity that I was lucky enough to have – advising them that they can get a solid career as a trades professional, they can earn their own money – good money, too – and they will have a skill that they can use forever in an industry that is always going to be required. But it’s not communicated like that in school.
“I truly believe that the biggest barrier for me was not knowing about the opportunities in the industry, and not even hearing of women moving into trades. It wasn’t until I was 26 that I started training, which shows how long it took for me to even be introduced to this world.”
A time for change
It’s so important to get everybody to feel like they belong in this industry. But to make this happen, Amy wants to see bigger companies offering apprenticeships to young people so they can train them up and show that they’re worthy of learning these skills.
She says: “I think proving there is a demand for women in the trades is key. Many homeowners actively search for women to carry out work in their homes, which is great for us! Also, promoting the opportunities to young women is important – if young people take up a trade at the age of 18, they could easily be earning upwards of £50k by the time they’re 25 – the opportunities are huge.
“Offering apprenticeships to young women will help them to get their foot in the door because the greatest barrier to getting into the industry is experience. You can get all the qualifications without ever doing a job on your own, so it is very important that you have that practice under your belt so you can prove your worth.”
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