When I tell people where I work and what job role I do, most people don’t believe me and, trust me, if someone had told me five years ago I would be working on the steelworks getting covered in dirt every day, I wouldn’t have believed them either! However, I absolutely love my job and applying for an apprenticeship at British Steel was the best decision I ever made.
I thought I’d write this blog as a perspective of a girl working in what is traditionally known as a man’s world. I had inspiration for this blog entry due to two of the main questions I get asked at apprentice open evenings and women in engineering events – especially by parents and young women interested in working for British Steel. The questions are ‘do you feel welcome’ and ‘are you looked after?’
I thought the best way to answer would be in a blog – this way, any young woman can read this online and hopefully get some answers while gaining an insight into how fun it is working on the steelworks!
From day one in the apprentice training centre, I felt welcome. There were around fifty apprentices taken on in my year and five of us were female – the most females that had been taken on in a long time. I have made some fantastic friends both male and female from my time in the training centre and have some great memories which I have taken from there. All of the mentors were fantastic and patient.
I’ll be honest, I was anxious about going out onto plant (as an apprentice we move around different parts of plant to gain experience in each area). But from the first few minutes on my initial placement, all my worries disappeared.
It honestly is like one big family out there – everyone is so welcoming and supportive. I would describe it as working with your dad or brother, or even granddad (hopefully no one will find the latter description offensive)! I have worked across most of the steelworks and this accounts for every plant area. If you ever have any issues, everyone is very approachable and takes the time to explain anything you may be unsure of.
The thing I love most is that everyone out on plant gives you a chance to try something – I’ve never been told ‘don’t do that, I don’t think you’ll manage.’ However, they are always there to assist when I know things are out of my capabilities or strengths.
To put into perspective how welcoming the staff are at British Steel – I got invited to five Christmas parties last year! These were invites from different departments I have worked at, which was lovely. I have made many great friends at British Steel who I socialise with outside of work.
I am now in the last six months of my apprenticeship and have returned to the blast furnaces to hopefully gain a permanent position here as I discovered during a previous placement that this is where my passion lies. I am currently training as day operations manager for raw materials – which I absolutely love! No two days are the same and I’m working in areas I never expected I would. I’m not going to lie, I sometimes get back to the offices and go to the toilet and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror – and I have to laugh (I’m usually covered head to toe in coal dust) and wonder how long I’ve been walking around like that for – but it’s part of the job and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So a message to anyone interested in applying for British Steel: I would say do it – you won’t regret it. Well, I certainly don’t, and I think I speak for any female (or male) for that matter.