A GROWING number of Kirklees women are carving out careers in the traditionally male building industry.
Recruiters at Kirklees Construction Partnership have noticed more and more women wanting to train for trades like plumbing and joinery.
The partnership is made up of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing and five construction firms - Keepmoat Plc, Lovell Partnership Ltd, Connaught Property Services, Enterprise Plc and Kirklees Building Services.
The partnership has been recruiting trainees to work on the Decent Homes Scheme, a Government initiative to improve thousands of council homes.
Each of the five firms in the partnership had to recruit seven trainees last year and eight trainees this year to work on the scheme.
A target has not yet been set for the third year of the scheme. Around one in five of the 75 trainees recruited so far are women.
The trainees range from 16-year-old school leavers to people in their 50s starting new careers after unemployment.
Most of them are recruited through careers advisers or through Build, an organisation that helps unemployed people into the construction trade.
As well as getting practical experience, the Decent Homes scheme trainees are studying for NVQs in their chosen trades at Huddersfield Technical College, Dewsbury College and Calderdale College.
Some are even training to be tenant liaison officers or site managers.
Dave Woodhead, a co-ordinator for the Kirklees Construction Partnership, said: "Some of our female and elderly tenants prefer talking to a woman.
"There is also a shortage of skilled labour and the industry is recognising the need to broaden its appeal.
"Women are an untapped labour resource and there is a big drive nationally towards encouraging them into the industry. Women are physically capable of doing the work.
"It is just the history of the trade that has prevented them applying. It was not seen as a woman's job."
Calderdale and Kirklees Careers, Huddersfield Technical College and the Construction Industry Training Board are also targeting young women in a bid to change their perceptions of the construction industry.
The three organisations arranged a construction event for teams of Year 11 girls from Holmfirth High School, Brighouse High, Thornhill High and Birkdale High.
The event - entitled Women In Construction, Knock 'Em Dead (Wicked) - involved a visit to a Southdale Homes building site at Deighton.
The girls learned plumbing, joinery and decorating skills with help from four female builders from Kirklees Building Services.
Holmfirth High School was the winning team and received a trophy for their efforts.
All the girls said the event had made them realise it was possible for women to have a career in construction.