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21 May 2024

It Shouldn’t Be One Woman Every 15 Years

Emma Francioli, Jackson Fire and Security National Training and Support Manager

GUEST COLUMN:

Emma Francioli
National training and support manager
Jackson Fire and Security

I’ve always craved a career in engineering and my role in fire and security has been everything I wanted and more.

 

I’ve worked my way up to national training and support manager with Jackson Fire and Security. After more than 20 years in the industry, I educate engineers in the profession by supplementing the knowledge of ten UK-wide branch directors and assist on-site teams from my base at the firm’s headquarters in Mold, North Wales.

Getting to this point hasn’t been plain sailing however.

It still surprises people to see me out in the van, which is perhaps no shock as it wasn’t until 15 years into the role that I met another female site engineer.

It shouldn’t have taken that long – I think that’s an important message to get across.

Emma Francioli, Jackson Fire and Security National Training and Support Manager

Being underrepresented means that I have always felt the need to prove my worth and show why I deserved to be there.

I’ve also received a fair few negative comments about being on site. However, that balances itself out when people say they are going to tell their daughters about me.

I can see why it is deemed ‘different’, as a study in 2021 found that only 16 per cent of fire safety and security employees in England were women.

But I grew up around mechanics and joiners, and my dad often involved me in DIY projects, so I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something where I could fix things.

I distinctly remember telling my careers advisers that I wanted to be a mechanic, but they always tried to push me into hairdressing as an alternative hands-on role. Luckily, I was stubborn and had resilience when I left school at 16.

Those traits certainly came in handy as I must have handwritten around 100 letters to businesses asking for an apprenticeship.

Eventually I began a trade apprenticeship in electrical engineering, although the scheme wasn’t what it is like now and the theory side wasn’t relevant to the practical aspect of the role.

Things have changed for the better during the past two decades and becoming a coach for training provider Skills For Security allowed me to share knowledge with aspiring apprentices.

What’s great is that I saw so many female apprentices walk through the classroom doors, and it is becoming less out of the ordinary to see a woman do this kind of role.

I hope that by continuing to be on site, I will show more girls it’s a career worth considering.



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