JTL has formed a strategic alliance with a company that is seeking to make it simpler for young women to work in the building services engineering sector.
The aim will be to design workwear specifically for women to wear during working hours, in a bid to encourage more young women to become electricians or heating and plumbing installers.
JTL claims the provision of well-fitting workwear, that hasn’t been designed to fit men, will help towards encouraging this aim.
Annie Bowman, a qualified painter and decorator from Sheffield who has worked across Europe, has invested her money into a self-funded business to develop a range of workwear especially for women, under the company name Hoydens Workwear.
With increasing numbers of women working in the building sector, particularly as painters and decorators, electricians and plumbers, Annie recognised the need for a range of workwear specifically aimed at this market.
Working closely with a production laboratory and a Portuguese manufacturer, Annie produced a range of work trousers that have been designed to stretch where needed, in a material that is said to respond to the needs of women better.
With a number of initiatives around the UK seeking to attract more women to male dominated professions, Annie said the response she received from various companies, was generally favourable.
One response came from JTL, which runs an Ambassadors scheme to try and attract more young women and more young people from the black, Asian and ethnic minority groups, into building services.
JTL’s Equality and Diversity Officer, Yasmin Damree-Ralph, commented: “The problem with workwear for young women has been a subject we have discussed with our female apprentices regularly and it has always been a serious issue with our young women apprentices. Many end up wearing their own jeans to work because the workwear available simply doesn’t fit them but often these clothes are not robust enough to last long on the front line!
“Having workwear that makes you look as if you belong to the profession is part and parcel of feeling comfortable in your job and whilst there is no definite evidence to support it, we feel it’s possible that it’s this sense of feeling uncomfortable, or out of place in the workplace that discourages young women from considering a career in the electrical or heating and plumbing professions. So when we heard about Annie’s new business and the garments she was looking to provide we had to take a closer look!”
JTL believes Annie’s business can help provide a solution to one of the key issues that stops young women applying for apprenticeships.
Yasmin therefore invited Annie to bring some of her garments down to JTL’s training centre in Ashford, along with five of the company’s young female apprentices to try the garments and take part in a photo shoot .
The range reportedly received positive feedback from the apprentices, Alice Duarte, Meleisha Stuart, Hannah Barker, Kimberley Worster and Gina Mann.
Annie plans to expand her range to introduce pockets as well as produce a selection of tool belts. She commented: “It was wonderful to see these girls genuinely chuffed with the new workwear we provided and to realise that there is a lot to be said about designing and producing a range of workwear for young women here in the UK.
“This is just the start and I plan to increase the range of clothes we produce and the range of colours and sizes we can supply, but this was a really important milestone in the development of Hoydens Workwear and the warmth and support from JTL and their apprentices was amazing.”
JTL has said it will now plan to provide every young woman apprentice it recruits, with a set of woman-special workwear from Hoydens.