MORE women must be lured into the building trade if the county is to meet demand for housing, say experts.

Following plans to build 2,000 new homes in a garden village off the A40 to the north of Eynsham by 2031, more bricklayers, plasterers and other builders will be needed.

But training bodies say they are struggling to attract enough apprentices to fill places, with the problem particularly bad when it comes to young women, who are seen as a source of untapped potential.

A recent project, Girls Allowed, encouraged women to sign up for half-day workshops to try their hand at bricklaying and carpentry.

But although there was an increase in numbers enquiring about and starting the courses, which ran all through last year, it did not seem to tempt girls into signing up for construction apprenticeships.

Lyndsey Fitzpatrick of ACE Training, which runs the Girls Allowed scheme on behalf of Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The point of the project was to draw attention to the fact that females are so under-represented in the sector and while we can see a definite increase in the number of females enquiring about and starting courses, we have yet to get a girl onto an apprenticeship.”

Women make up just 11 per cent of the UK’s total construction workforce.

Of those, just one per cent are work on site, with the majority admin or office-based.

And the Office for National Statistics says that the number of women working as roofers, bricklayers and glaziers is so low it is unmeasurable.

Former building site manager Kate Wyatt believes more must be done to attract women into the trade.

Ms Wyatt has also worked as a bid and project manager for a number of large construction companies, including Wates.

She is now business development manager at Oxford-based Basil Wyatt & Sons, which was set up by her grandfather 60 years ago,

She said: “There’s nothing more exciting than working on site and seeing a building come out of the ground before your eyes.

“The people, projects and challenges that come with the industry are so diverse; no two days are the same.

“I would love to see more women enter the industry – it’s more than muddy boots, although I like that part and can offer such a range of exciting and varied career paths.”

She added: “There aren’t a huge number of female role models of women working on site and that’s partly down to how the construction industry is portrayed in schools and universities.

“We need to change perceptions.

“There are many different roles from contractors and engineers to architects, interior designers and bid writers.”