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National Apprenticeship Week: Meet the Stratford technician with designs on a male-dominated industry

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 March 2019

Apprentice Muntaha Saleem. Picture: KEN MEARS

Apprentice Muntaha Saleem. Picture: KEN MEARS

Archant

"There's no such thing as a man's job."

That’s the message from Muntaha Saleem, an apprentice working with Imtech Engineering who was inspired to pursue a career in the construction industry by Stratford’s ever-changing skyline.

“If a guy can do it, then a woman is more than likely able to do it as well,” said Muntaha, speaking at the start of National Apprenticeship Week.

After leaving school she drifted a bit between courses before signing up to the design, engineer, construct course at Newham College.

The 20-year-old now works as a digital engineering technician apprentice doing computer aided design with the firm that helped transform the London Stadium after the Olympic Games in 2012.

She also studies an NVQ part time and aims to progress to a Higher National Certificate next year.

Muntaha, who lives near West Ham Park, Stratford, said: “I love this job because I get to be on site. You get hands on experience. If you’re put off studying full time whether for financial or other reasons you can get the best of both worlds on the apprenticeship route.”

She added that working with an Imtech mentor and on site with a construction manager were just two highlights of the experience.

But it was the development around Stratford which ignited Muntaha’s interest in construction, with the girls school where she did her GCSEs focusing more on textiles and design rather than her passion.

Asked how it feels to be a woman in an industry dominated by men, she said: “I wouldn’t say it’s unusual for women to be in the profession. Some men look shocked to see a woman on site. But they shouldn’t be surprised.

“It’s a growing aspect of the industry.”

In her team at Imtech there are four women, but Muntaha, who aims to eventually get into management, wants that to change across the sector in future.

“It’s definitely an option girls in school should be aware of,” she said - as are apprenticeships.

“They are the way to go. I never thought I would ever be happy to go to work at five in the morning, but I’m really content.”

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