Female Dagenham plumber praises training scheme

Plumbing and construction work may still be seen as a man’s domain but one trailblazing mum is urging women to take the plunge and discover the variety and the freedom that come with the work.

Trainee plumber Carol Jerzyk, of Ilchester Road, Dagenham, was last week celebrating winning an accolade for excellence in the work experience scheme Women into Construction.

Mother-of-two Carol, 37, is one of 40 women who received certificates for the scheme, which began in a bid to increase the number of female employees working in the Olympic Park.

Through the project, the first-year plumbing student at Barking and Dagenham College found a placement on a housing development near the park, mounting radiators on walls and fixing parts.

She said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. The men are fantastic – they treat me like one of the lads.”

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Carol had wanted to become a plumber for some time, but her plans were put on hold by motherhood.

However, with an electrician as a partner, she feels secure in the building trade and believes that more women are needed in the sector.

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She said: “I decided to go in to something not a lot of women go into because I think older people or single parents would feel a little safer with a female plumber around the house.

“The programme was really fantastic. I’ve met lots of other women from different backgrounds who were in a similar position to me before joining the programme.”

From July 2008 to July 2011 the scheme trained 248 women aged 18 to 60 on the Olympic Park site.

Carol is adamant that she does not want to be regarded in terms of clich�s about sex or gender.

She said: “People think women can’t pick things up, can’t take a cupboard off the wall or fix a heating exchange. A woman can do it.

“If it’s something that you want to do, don’t hold back. There’s a lot of support out there, especially from Women into Construction.”

Explaining why she prefers plumbing to shop or office work – two of the lines of employment she has tried – she said: “I like the physical side of the work, being out there and doing different things each day.”

Schemes such as Women into Construction offer support for women who may feel insecure or discriminated against in the workplace.

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