GIRLS are swapping curling tongs for power tools to work in construction.
East Durham College has recruited an unprecedented number of female students to study at its Technical Academy, a centre of excellence in construction-related training.
In the three years since the Peterlee-based academy was opened, it had only seen two female students enrol, but this changed recently when a record seven girls signed up for a range of courses typically dominated by male students.
Paris Hope, 15, from Easington Lane, is on the Level 2 Diploma in electrical installation and Pam Moore, 47, from Peterlee, is on the Level 2 Diploma in gas, along with Charlotte Murrish 24, from Trimdon.
They are joined by Kirsty Gressman, 16, from Fishburn, is on the Level 1 multicraft construction skills course, Carly Collins, 16, also from Fishburn, is on the Level 2 Diploma in plumbing, Suzanne Potts, 23, from Hartlepool, who is on the Level 2 Diploma in wall and floor tiling and Dale Walton, 27, from Hart, is studying on the Level 2 Diploma in fitted interiors.
Rob Hutchinson, centre manager, said: “We are delighted that so many female students have decided to enrol at the academy and to pursue a career in construction.
“We have more than 150 students so we are thrilled that women are now represented in nearly all the trade areas we cover.
“Both the college, and indeed the industry, are desperate to encourage more females to consider construction and engineering as a career option.
“They have fitted in really well and are giving the lads a real run for their money. In fact, many of them are outperforming a large number of their male counterparts and are showing a real aptitude for both the theoretical and practical work.”
Former Hetton School pupil Paris said: “I absolutely love it here and on the course. You get thrown straight into the work and I can’t believe how much I have learnt since I started. We all feel completely equal to the boys and all get along really well, we’ve just blended in.
“I chose to come to The Technical Academy as I think there are some good stable job opportunities and I want to eventually become a site electrician or maybe work as an electrician in the forces.”