Highbury College teenager breaks down barriers in construction industry

A TEENAGE brickie has been doing her bit to break down gender stereotypes in the workplace.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 3:08 pm
Updated Monday, 1st July 2019, 11:06 am

Abbey Blackman, 19, successfully passed her Level 3 Diploma in Bricklaying at Highbury College.

As the only girl on the course she became the first ever female to compete in the Guild of Bricklayers Craft Southern Regional Competition.

Abbey said: ‘I originally wanted to be a nursery teacher but after attending an open day at the college I tried bricklaying and loved it. I hope what I have achieved can help encourage more women into construction.’

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Abbey Blackman (19) from Waterlooville, has graduated in her bricklaying course at Highbury College and was the only girl on her course. Picture: Sarah Standing (280619-9982)

Abbey has now set up her own instagram page entitled ‘Abbey the Brickie’.

‘I have had girls message me from as far afield as Canada saying they love the fact that I am a bricklayer and I have helped inspire them to follow a similar path,’ she said.

Abbey has always ‘enjoyed building things’ and with her dad working as a qualified plasterer, the construction industry runs in her family.

Father, Michael Blackman, said: ‘When she first mentioned bricklaying I thought she was joking but once I knew it was what she wanted to do I told her to go for it. As a child she would always be making things. I bought her a set of tools as she used to like helping me fix things around the house.’

Abbey Blackman (19) from Waterlooville, has graduated in her bricklaying course at Highbury College and was the only girl on her course. Picture: Sarah Standing (280619-31)

Despite her initial apprehension at joining the all male course, Abbey soon became accepted.

‘I had to get used to the banter but after a while I was just seen as one of the boys,’ she said.

Tutor, Rob Higgins, commented: ‘There still remains a type of banter in the construction industry. However, Abbey undoubtedly gave as good as she got. Abbey has had challenges but I’m so proud of what she has achieved.’

The level 3 diploma sees students progress to constructing curved walls, cavity walling and features such as chimneys.

Abbey Blackman (19) with advanced trainer in brickwork at Highbury College Rob Higgins. Picture: Sarah Standing (280619-16)

Rob added: ‘The construction industry still has a bit of a reputation and we don’t tend to get many girls on the course. Hopefully seeing what Abbey has done can encourage more females into the industry.’

Abbey now plans to develop her on site experience and hopes to one day own her own business.