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Celebrating award-winners and career leaders on International Women's Day 2023

08 Mar 2023

In celebration of International Women's Day 2023, we are highlighting some of our award-winning and trailblazing women from the past year.

Heather Derbyshire

After a 20-year career in the Fitness industry, Heather Derbyshire decided that she wanted a career change so enrolled on a Plastering course, followed by a Diploma in Site Carpentry. Since completing her courses, Heather has achieved her ultimate goal of starting a property development business, partnering with her sister and a talented group of other female professionals.

Heather said: “The Growth Company has always kept its doors open to me, even after I’d completed both of my qualifications. The impact of the post-qualification support offered to me, kept my morale and confidence up, which ultimately contributed to my success in the industry and continues to allow me to thrive to this day. I believe at any point in life, it’s possible to change the narrative and aspire to and achieve whatever career goals inspire you. The training opportunities and support made available to me by the Growth Company helped me harness both my potential and confidence to ultimately succeed as a female in the Construction Industry.”

Read Heather’s full story.

Lindsay Smith

Lindsay Smith was the winner of the Manchester Adult Education and Skills Plan Awards Higher Education category. These awards celebrate high-achieving adult learners across the city, as well as businesses and tutors that have supported them on their learning journey and helped them to thrive.

Lindsay was recognised for completing her studies, achieving a 2:1 in her Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, whilst stepping into a demanding management role and juggling home-schooling her children through the pandemic.

Find out more about Lindsay’s award.

Georgina Bell

Upon returning to education, Georgina Bell completed an Access to Higher Education Diploma and is now studying for a degree in Pyschology and Counselling at the University of Salford.

Although she found getting back into education after a long time strange, Georgina explains that she thoroughly enjoyed the process. She said: “The Growth Company has helped me overcome doubting my capabilities and has proven it is never too late to follow your dreams and become the best version of yourself.”

Read Georgina’s full story.

Anna Belle

Inspiring construction student Anna Belle received the Student of the Year Award at the Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS) Training Awards, which recognises excellence and achievement in plastering and interior trades.

After being made redundant, Anna decided to pursue a career change and began to work towards her dream role as a Health and Safety Executive. Anna now has 26 qualifications under her belt and is working as a Risk Assessment and Compliance Officer, utilising all the skills she has gained on her programmes with us so far.

We caught up with Anna at part of National Careers Week to find out how she’s getting on since her award win and find out more about her career journey so far. Anna has experienced first-hand the barriers that women are still overcoming when entering the construction industry, but she has not let this dampen her spirit.

Anna said: “The challenges that I face currently unfortunately are just being female, trying to get in the door at the moment against men with the same qualifications is quite difficult. Even though times have changed they’ve not changed that much.

“I’m passionate to help other women come through the construction field because I know how difficult it can be. I was made redundant over eight years ago so for me to retrain and come into this field completely from scratch was very very difficult, I’m not going to lie and say it wasn’t, but if you know what you want to do and you know where you want to go, there will be support and courses to get you through to that avenue.”

To hear Anna’s full story, check out the full interview.

Rochelle Pilgrim

Apprentice Rochelle Pilgrim was awarded Apprentice of the Year at the Made in Manchester Awards. Rochelle was nominated by her employer, Blue Ocean Building Ltd, for her commitment to her learning and development and her contributions to the business.

Rochelle is proud to be a woman working in a typically male-dominated industry and her confidence and skills have meant that she has had a positive impact on the business, changing perceptions that some colleagues had about women in construction, and has inspired other apprentices. As the first woman on the team of joiners, she has not let this put her off achieving her goals.

Find out more about Rochelle’s award.

GC Education & Skills take great pride in supporting women on a daily basis, whether they're pursuing a qualification with us or they're our colleagues. Our aim is to help them achieve their career aspirations and support them every step of the way.