We are delighted to support International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June 2021, an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to women and girls in this exciting industry.
As part of our ongoing partnership with Lincoln Electric, we are pleased to support this initiative by sharing the stories of our own inspiring ‘Women in Welding’.
Helen, Welding Apprentice at Wiltshire College
“I’m currently doing the Level 2 Certificate in Welding Techniques and Skills and will then progress on to the Level 3 Certificate in Welding Techniques and Skills. Within the Level 2 qualification, we have been working on fabrication and welding for the last 10 months. The processes that I will cover in both Level 2 and 3 are MAG, MMA and TIG (Stainless, Mild Steel and Aluminium).
“I decided to take this qualification as it would help develop my previous knowledge that I have on the different types of welding and fabrications. Before I started at Wiltshire College and my apprenticeship, I had little knowledge of MAG. However, whilst doing a Welding unit at Swindon College, I found that I really enjoyed the subject and wanted to continue this into a career. I enjoy having the ability to learn and use it in a real-life situation. I also enjoy learning about the different variations that welding and fabrications offer.
“I initially found TIG to be difficult as it requires attention to detail and the ability to concentrate on multiple inputs of the weld, for example feeding the wire, whilst moving the torch and controlling the speed with the peddle. After practicing multiple times, it gradually became second nature and is now my favourite type of welding.
“I highly recommend the welding and fabrication qualification as the quality of teaching and hands-on learning is second to none. I also recommend doing an apprenticeship as it allows you to get used to a work environment, build industry contacts and learn in both environments.
“When I finish the qualification, I hope to be able to travel the world and use my welding in the film industry.”
Sharon Jarvis, Deputy Head of Department Land-based Engineering, HGV & Welding, Wiltshire College & University Centre
“My welding dream began when I was about 14 on my grandfather’s farm. My uncle was repairing the cattle lorry and, being inquisitive, I asked if I could have a go, and I instantly fell in love with the MMA welding process.
“When I left school, I joined a youth training scheme and was excited about becoming an engineer so did the welding and machining for a year, unfortunately I could not complete my second year as the staff insisted I go and possibly look for a factory job as no engineering place will take me on as I am a woman.
“I have previously worked in factories, bar work, hotels but never actually enjoyed any of them. I decided to return to welding in 2006 and started an evening class in the local college. Initially, the reception I received was not very encouraging, but as the weeks went by, the others on the course and the lecturer saw that I was serious about the course, which helped with my progression. The lecturer ended up asking me to return the following year as he thought I was a natural welder.
“I continued my studies the following year doing a welding and fabrication course, which I passed with a distinction. At the end of the year, my lecturer announced he was retiring and asked if I was interested in taking over his post as he thought I was good with my peers and had a natural ability for welding.
“As I started lecturing without any industrial experience, during the holidays, I would work with a local employer to gain experience. This helped a lot, especially with problem-solving any welding issues.
“I was successful at an interview with Babcock International teaching the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) in Bordon and was a part of their move to Lyneham in 2015. I am very proud of this accomplishment as I was the first female instructor for the military.
“I currently teach welding skills at Wiltshire College and have managed to build the department from just being a workshop that facilitates the agricultural engineering department, to being fully independent with 12 apprentices so far and three evening classes a week. I love my job as a lecturer. The most rewarding part is watching the students grow in confidence during their time on the course, especially the school leavers.
“It hasn’t always been easy as engineering has been a male-dominated industry for a long time. At times I felt I had to prove myself to gain respect, but it’s only been a small minority that made me feel that way. I have had to fight to be where I am today!
“My advice for any girls and women wanting to get into engineering would be to go for it! It can be frustrating at times but it is a very rewarding job that brings on challenges no matter how good you think you are.”
To find out more about our partnership with Lincoln Electric, read our news story here.
You can browse our industry-leading fabrication and welding qualifications suite here.
To find out more about our qualifications and how to become an approved Centre with us, contact our Relationship Managers here.