WJ Group’s Jordelle Henriques is the first woman to complete the Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA) apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship has been running for nearly two decades and is a requirement for all new entrants under National Highways Sector Scheme 7.
Road marking is one of the few highway maintenance sectors where operatives are trained to NVQ 2 level.
Ms Henriques started with WJ Group a little over three years ago and took a highways construction course at her local college, where she took a ‘surprisingly firm interest in road marking,’ she said.
Ms Henriques said: ‘I’m also really proud to be the first woman to complete the RSMA apprenticeship and show that this industry is not just for men – it really is open to everyone. I’ve been involved in a number of different capacities at WJ but it’s the white lining element I really love. When I first told friends what I was doing for a living, they didn’t even realise what white lining was.’
Andrew Fawcett, WJ South operations manager, commented: ‘Jordelle has been great for us, she’s hard-working, and I feel privileged to be her manager. It is ridiculous that there is this perception of highways being a solely male preserve, we are actively breaking down this misconception by promoting fairness, inclusion and respect in construction.
‘The road marking sector and wider construction industry does offer a great opportunity for all and companies that don’t embrace inclusion are themselves limited and limiting their opportunities for future success.’
Wayne Johnston WJ Group managing director said: ‘Innovation and collaboration are fundamental to our development. When hiring people, all from a similar background, you encounter the situation that they tend to view a problem in the same way and with the complex questions posed in today’s fast-moving transport world, we need to ensure we analyse a problem from every perspective. Empowered people with diverse backgrounds will foster a generation of more and different ideas.’
WJ’s outreach recruitment drive, which aims to tackle the well-known lack of diversity and skills gap in the highways sector, has worked with young offenders and organisations such as Construction Youth Trust.
It has also set up a relationship with Keele University running internships that have led to a new stream of graduates who are bringing their own skills to drive the continual improvement aspirations of the WJ Group.