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June 19 2019
By Jessamy Chapman

First calls for more female engineers

In support of International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June, First Bus is championing its female engineers and calling for more women to consider it as a career.

Kelly Fielon: ‘In 10 years’ time I'd like to be Engineering Manager’

The company recently conducted a survey that found that a quarter of women have actively avoided ‘men only’ careers.

It also says that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe.

Michelle Wolf, engineering apprentice at First, says: “I would love to continue to progress in my career as an engineer and I have a great role model in the business who has progressed to become a supervisor. Last year I was lucky enough to win the IRTE Skills Challenge, which was a huge achievement.”

Fellow engineering apprentice Kelly Fielon says: “The guys I work with are all a bit older than me, but they’ve never shown any issue with me being part of the team. If you show willing and want to learn, then they’ll teach you. My manager Ben is a huge inspiration and he’s keen to encourage more women to join engineering and make it more the ‘norm’.”

On how they got into their current careers, Michelle says: “I’d tried a few office jobs, but I found it boring! I then got an apprenticeship in a car garage as I’ve always enjoyed making and building things and I loved it. I then saw an advert to join First Bus through the apprenticeship scheme and applied.”

Kelly says: “I always wanted to learn a trade and started to look for apprenticeships that would give me that opportunity, but when I was 20, I struggled to find an apprenticeship scheme that would take on an ‘older’ person, so I started applying for other jobs.

Michelle Wolf: Past winner of the IRTE Skills Challenge

“In 2014 I joined First Bus as a driver and progressed to become a supervisor and then saw the opportunity to apply for the engineering apprenticeship and I was offered a place to join the scheme in 2018.”

On where they see themselves in 10 years’ time, Michelle says: “I want to be doing exactly what I’m doing now and then perhaps in 15 years’ time, I will be starting to work my way up the ladder.”

While Kelly says: “In 10 years’ time I'd like to have worked my way up the ladder to be an Engineering Manager, if not higher by then.”

Asked what they would say to a younger version of themselves, Michelle says: “I’d tell myself to get started sooner, as I’d be a fully qualified engineer by now, but I’m grateful for the experience I’ve learnt on the way to becoming an apprentice.”

And Kelly says: “If I’d started it earlier then I wouldn’t have the experience and knowledge that I have now, but I’d tell myself not to give up on it and it’s never too late.”



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