Spotlight on International Women’s Day 2024 – Laura Callaghan, Carpentry Tutor

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day 2024 by shining a light on some of our incredible female staff. Meet Laura Callaghan, Carpentry Tutor at Guildford College.

Hi Laura. Tell us a bit about yourself,

My career path first began when my family moved abroad to Belgium, and I studied at the British School of Brussels. The school had such a creative and pastoral approach to learners with small classes and incredible facilities. This educational journey enabled me to get good grades at GCSE and A level. I then went to University in Surrey and pursued my Art degree in Animation, which led into a more three-dimensional creative approach of working and I began set building within theatre. This is really where my construction skills began and took off.

I got a bit side-tracked and began working for the Metropolitan Police for three years as a Police Community Support Officer, which was a great learning curve. It was then that I felt I needed to get back to my true creative and structural calling. So, I while I worked full time at the MET, and I also studied City and Guilds in Carpentry and Joinery at night. I decided I wanted to put my skills and qualification in practice full time and I applied for a Senior Technician role in Design and Technology at a secondary school and worked there for 15 years. I love working in education am now Carpentry tutor at Guildford College and loving it!

Laura Callaghan – Carpentry Tutor at Guildford College

Within my previous role as a trainee lecturer within Carpentry and Joinery at East Surrey College, where I completed my teaching training on the job as an apprentice. I feel was able to get involved with the practical aspect of teaching and theoretically aspect too. Working alongside some very experienced lecturers.

Teaching students’ skills and sharing my knowledge, skills and behaviour with young people is very fulfilling, I really enjoy the personable aspect of teaching.

Working hard alongside a great team and seeing the result we are achieving here at Activate Learning has and is a fulling part of my teaching journey. And being able to say out loud “I was a part of that!”


What is the most important message you would give to young women thinking about a career in the construction industry?

I have never been discriminated against for being a woman in this industry, it’s great working with your hands and is hard work regardless of what gender you are. I say go for it; you won’t regret it!

Studying and working is the best way to get into carpentry or any other trade. You need to study and get the qualification and it means you’re set up for life. Getting the hands-on experience is exactly what you need out on site too. I recommend, doing your level 1 and 2, getting a weekend job labouring and then get an apprenticeship with the company you’re with and continuing studying your level 3. That way you have both and are prepared for whatever field.


Why do you think it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

It’s still a pretty male-dominated world out there and it’s really important that women are given equal representation in all sectors. There are not enough women in carpentry, for instance – and I really want to shine a light on this and try and get more girls involved in this trade. Women should have equal opportunities in leadership positions, and we should be supporting diversity across all areas of the workforce.


Can you share a story or example of a woman who has inspired you and why?

My sister inspires me everyday. She lives in Israel and works in a very male-dominated environment as a paralegal. She is a strong, educated and articulate woman who has earned the respect of her colleagues.