For more than a decade the annual Construction & Built Environment Challenge Final has been held at Edinburgh’ s Corn Exchange. But only once before in its history as an all-female team won the coveted trophy. In an industry still very under-represented by female talent, the fact that a group of eight girls in their second year at high school came won the day, and succeeded in a government-targeted STEM subject (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths), is to be welcomed. It is a field that has been given the personal support of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has promoted women in construction as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.
A team of schoolgirls has won an annual construction industry skills challenge for only the second time in its history. The all-female team from Firrhill High School in Edinburgh scooped top spot at the Construction & Built Environment Challenge Final (CABEC) at the city’ s Corn Exchange on January 14. The final was the culmination of a series of regional heats pitting 30 schools from across Edinburgh and the Lothians against each other in traditional building trades. The 30 drawn 300 schools, which are in turn whittled down to 10 for the final heats. Consisting of team challenges that test skills from across the construction and built environment sector, it is aimed at second year high school pupils, aged 12 to 13, and has been held every year for around 17 years. The Electrical Engineering Training Foundation (EETF) was one of a group of industry sponsors who helped fund the CABEC.
One of the challenges ran by training officers from the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT) was the aptly named Bright Sparks challenge. Others among the six in total included the ‘ Tiler on the Roof’ , ‘ It’ s a picnic’ and ‘ Arch Rivals’ . All teams were not only judged on how well they completed the challenge but also on their communication and teamwork skills; the event is designed to introduce pupils to potential careers in construction and the built environment. Anne Galbraith, SECTT CEO, said: “The standard was excellent and all teams were a credit to their schools.
This year an all-girl team from Firrhill High-school took first prize in the event, which is only the second time since it was won by St Margarets many years ago. “Hopefully, this event inspires one or two of the pupils taking part to a career in the electrical industry in future. And especially girls, who we would like to see more of in the industry.
Anne, who has been involved since the beginning, added the CABEC is “very close to her heart”. She has managed the challenge for the past 12 years and says every year she continues to be impressed by the manner in which the teams conduct themselves.
She said: “They work so well together, when many of the teams are made up from different classes and don’t know each other. This year the standard was so high, the pupils were all focused and so enthusiastic.”
The trainers & sponsors
Anne added that CABEC is fortunate to have both College and University input which offers a large range of challenges, and a taster in all areas of construction and the built environment.
The lecturers who run each challenge are also “very knowledgeable and approachable” pupils ask “some excellent questions”, she said.
She added: “This will help them make an informed subject choice. With the Scottish Government focus on the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) CABEC is positioned well to allow pupils to see where STEM fits into Construction and the Built Environment. We could not run this without those who sponsor CABEC and I would like to thank, EETF, SNIPEF, CITB, ESP, FMB, RAS Crockett and FES for their support this year.”
She added: “It is such a good event and the conversations I had with challenge providers, teachers and pupils all confirmed the value that this event holds. I am delighted to be a part of CABEC. With funding support we hope to be able to run the event again this year. My congratulations to all the schools who took part in CABEC, they were a credit to themselves and the schools.”