Students enjoy ‘Women in Construction’ open day at South Lake Leisure Centre site

Apprentice Plumber, Abigail Reilly, who was first in plumbing at the Skills Build NI competition shows Lord Mayor, Councillor Julie Flaherty and a student how to bend pipes.

70 young female students recently tried their hand at a wide range of trades at a ‘Women in Construction’ open day at Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s £35m new South Lake Leisure Centre site in Craigavon.

Farrans, the lead contractor on the £35m new South Lake Leisure Centre project, hosted the event for local female students aged from 11-13 with the aim of sparking an interest in construction jobs among young women.

Subcontractors at the site jumped on board to help out with the open day, offering hands-on construction skills workshops including joinery, plumbing, bricklaying, electrics and plastering. Year eight and nine students from three schools across the Borough (St Ronan’s College, St Patrick’s High School Keady and Dromore High School) participated in the event.

According to CITB figures, females make up just 14.5% of the construction workforce as a whole, and a mere 2% of skilled manual trades, so the open day was designed to give the young women insight into the various trades on a building site to inspire and encourage them to consider skilled manual trades as a future career.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Councillor Julie Flaherty commented: “It was a fun-filled, yet educational day as it was very hands-on! The girls had a great time, as each student got practical experience with professional tradespeople on site in a wide range of construction industry jobs.”

The state-of-the-art leisure centre in Craigavon is on target to complete in summer 2020. The new facility, which is being built adjacent to Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre overlooking Craigavon’s South Lake, features an impressive eight-lane, 50-metre swimming pool, a teaching pool, fun pool and a spectator gallery.

Once complete, the new gym will be the largest available on the island of Ireland, featuring state-of-the-art equipment, spin and dance studios. It will also include an extensive health and beauty suite, activity rooms, squash courts and a large sports hall suitable for a variety of sporting activities, as well an extensive outdoor watersports provision.

Plans for the new leisure complex – first floated in 2010 – are part of a wider and ambitious regeneration programme across the ABC area. It will represent the largest capital project ever undertaken by the council since its formation in 2015 and will provide an enhanced facility, designed to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the whole borough.