Christina Valentine is a multi-skilled tradeswoman extraordinaire...
…and now she’s turned her motivations to a new project: the Tools for Life Training Skills Academy, which aims to help women gain better lives and employment prospects by learning a skilled trade.
Hi Christina, can you tell us a little bit about the aims of the Tools for Life Trade Skills Academy?
Tools for Life Trade Skills Academy is a profitable social business to help women learn finishing trades. The aim of this project is help women, including those furthest from the employment market, gain better lives and employment prospects by learning a skilled trade.
All courses will be means tested. Women who can afford to pay, will pay for their training just as they would if they attended any other place of education. And women who cannot afford to pay will be funded giving them opportunities in life that they may not have had access to previously.
The project sounds wonderful. Why do you think we, as a society, have a need for it?
Currently only around 2% of people in the trades are female. This 2% figure has barely changed for decades.
There is significant evidence from society for the need for female tradespeople, ranging from safety reasons to having a choice.
Now is the perfect time for this project as it is clearly evident from these facts and figures that there is a huge gap in the market and an equally huge market in that gap.
Makes sense to me. The desire to have a female tradesperson for the reasons you list, but not being able to find one is a common issue.
For the sceptics, can you tell me a little more about the rationale behind the ‘Women Only’ Academy?
The reason the academy will be for women only is to enable them to train in a single sex environment where they will have far more chance of succeeding.
Currently, if a woman attends a standard skills training centre, she is likely to be the only woman on her course, possibly even in the college, so effectively she is in a single sex training environment but obviously for her it’s the wrong one!
It could be said that a Women Only Academy is reverse sexism, although I believe it’s about being fair in this current unfair playing field.
How will the Tools for Life Academy help the women training within it to succeed?
Tools for Life Academy will also teach Mindset Skills and Marketing Skills to equip women for the employment market, especially those women entering into self-employment, which typically women tend to shy away from far more than men do.
In addition to the training academy, my goal is to also set up an All Female Building Company (similar model to Pimlico Plumbers – highly professional with excellent customer service) so that women can enter straight into employment upon completing their training. This route to employment is perfect for women who do not want to try and gain standard employment within the construction industry nor want to enter into self-employment.
Customers will easily be able to find professional tradeswomen all under one roof, giving them total peace of mind that their expectations will be met when having a job completed in their property by one of our professionally trained tradeswomen.
The All Female Building Company will also be great for raising the profile of female tradespeople, as currently customers often do not even know tradeswomen exist, and even if they do, they don’t currently know where to find us.
Lastly, for our readers who may not have heard of your work before: why are you the right person to deliver this?
I am passionate about helping to reshape the construction industry for the better, having been a multi skilled self-employed tradeswoman for over 30 years and witnessed virtually no 3 improvement in the sexism and gender bias within the construction industry throughout my career.
I am particularly passionate about helping those women furthest from the employment market for whatever reason that may be: ex-offenders, mental health issues, care leavers, adolescent girls expelled from school, single mothers stuck in the benefits trap, or indeed any other adversity that has prevented them from standard routes to education and employment.
My vision is huge. I aim to roll out Tools for Life Trade Skills Academy and Tools for Life All Female Building Company throughout the UK so that tradeswomen become the norm not the exception.
Christina is looking for help getting her project up and running. This includes:
- Start up funding
- A training venue
- Funding for sponsored places for means tested trainees
If you may be able to help with this project please contact her via her website or at:
Christina Valentine Property Services
57 Ewell Park Way