Today is International Women's Day - a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
We're proud that the further education sector in Wales supports women to achieve in so many ways.
In this case study, we learn how Coleg y Cymoedd learner Chloe Thomas’ positive experience of college study and the apprenticeship programme has led to a successful career in a male dominated industry.
Chloe Thomas, 25, from Barry hopes her career path will encourage more females into the Rail industry.
After completing her A Levels, Chloe enrolled on an aerospace engineering qualification, which sparked her interest in engineering and on completion of the course, gave her the confidence to believe that she had the knowledge to pursue a career in that sector.
Keen to further her interest in engineering she felt an apprenticeship
would provide the ideal opportunity to learn on the job and the rail industry was of particular interest as there is so much change happening in the South Wales area; which she was keen to be part of it
Chloe was successful in securing an Apprenticeship with Transport for Wales (TfW), and attended Coleg y Cymoedd, the college choice of TfW. Her experience at the college was extremely positive, providing a great environment with modern workshops and laboratories. These facilities were equipped to carry out ‘hands on’ tasks such as electrical circuit build and test, which gave Chloe a good basis to work on when undertaking projects within her current role.
The variety of courses on offer at the college has allowed Chloe to progress over the time of her apprenticeship, completing a Level 3 NVQ in Traction and Rolling stock as well as studying a Level 3 BTEC, HNC and HNC+ all in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. She then went on to complete a Foundation degree at University of South Wales and is now in the final months of her BSc.
Speaking about her apprenticeship Chloe said, “I would definitely recommend this apprenticeship, along with the college courses, it’s a fantastic way to start a career in the rail industry and it has given me the best possible education alongside a rewarding job.
Studying is extremely important, when attending college you are not only representing your company but also working towards your future. I studied alongside working both day and night shifts, so it was important for me to learn management and organisation skills; in order to keep on top of all assignments and exams whilst keeping a work/life balance.
Completing an apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to be successful in my workplace. Since starting seven years ago, I have exceeded all my initial ambitions and goals. From Apprentice to Maintenance Technician, to Fleet Support Engineer, it is definitely a position I would not be in without my apprenticeship and the courses I completed.
Working in a male dominated industry has had a positive impact on my ambitions, as I believe it has made me work harder and strive higher. Having been the first female apprentice to work at the Canton depot, my main advice would be to break the stereotype – do not let your gender hold you back from getting the career you desire.
Since I have started at TfW, we have had two more females join the company as apprentices who are doing so well - which is fantastic to see!