In spite of her initial misgivings, Lobna Karaouaoui is currently studying for a “Construction Technician” degree at Fundación Laboral in the Balearic Islands, which is the first step to achieve her dream: becoming an architect.
At only 16 years old, Lobna Karaouaoui already had her future clear: she wanted to be an architect. However, when she finished her High school studies, she chose a different option than usual. Instead of continuing with her High School studies, Lobna is now studying the “Construction Technician” cycle of studies that Fundación Laboral offers, together with the high school Politécnic in Palma. These studies will guide her, in a practical way and with professional experience, to the studies she likes. Although she had doubts about registering because she is a girl, all her fears have gone and now Lobna, after two courses and 2,000 teaching hours, will discover first-hand a sector she wants to continue to work in.
QUESTION: How did you find out about this Vocational Training cycle? Why did you register for the course?
ANSWER: I was recommended to do this cycle at high school where I was studying my compulsory studies. They asked me what I wanted to do and I told them that I wanted to study architecture, so they told me to try this Medium Degree.
Q.- Why haven’t you chosen to continue with your High School studies?
A.- Because I think that through this cycle it will be easier for me to work on what I like. Because it is more practical, I think it is going to be easier for me than the High School. Furthermore, I think it will give me experience and I will be able to see how is the sector.
Q.- Why are you attracted to architecture since your youth?
A.- I don’t know. It is something I like. I like working with maps, representing them… I also like drawing, so it can be a good way out.
Q.- Did you have any experience or relationship with the sector before doing the course at Fundación Laboral?
A.- Personally no, but my father has worked in bricklaying. However, I had never seen him work in this trade. When I told him that I wanted to do this course and why I wanted to do it, he encouraged me.He told me that if I did well, I should go ahead.
Q.- What have you seen in the course? What is it that most attracts you to what you are seeing?
A.- Since September we have been doing formwork work, we have rethought, we have made partitions… And we have also made plans. This module, is related to the subject of architecture, has caught my attention quite a lot.
Q.- How is your course experience?
A.- It is being a good experience.I’m really enjoying it, especially knowing what it is like. Also, being on inside I think anyone can do this kind of work. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman.
Q.- What did you expect from this course? Is it being fulfilled?
A.- I hope to get my degree from this course and be able to continue my studies with a higher degree. Of course, to learn and know new things. I had not laid bricks before starting this course, ever. And the truth is that I imagined everything to be more theoretical. And theory is not very much, it is all practical. Now I’m learning what these trades are on the job. On the other hand, about physical effort, I haven’t seen any difference between what it is and what I expected.
Q.- Are there more girls on the course?
A.– There are two girls, and in total there are ten students in the class. My classmate and I knew each other before, we went to school together, and we both had the idea of studying architecture, so we signed up at the same time.
Q.- Were your classmates surprised to see girls on the first day of school?
A.- Sure, I suppose so. They didn’t tell us anything, but I think they were surprised. Then we explained to them that we wanted to continue studying and it seems that they understood why we were there. What they are looking for with this course is to work in masonry. Now we are very good with them. In addition, the relationship with the teachers is also very good, they are good trainers: they explain everything well and everyone understands them.
Q.- Has there been anything that you have not liked or that has cost you more?
A.- No, nothing. I think that the only limit I could have had as a woman was to lift a heavy block. The rest I think anyone can do without problems.
Q.- You are also doing practice in the workshops, how is the experience going?
A.- It’s going very well, I like it a lot.One of the last practices we are doing is to lift partitions, make a wall. Also, next year, we will have practice in companies. I’ve already thought about them and I’m a little afraid to face up to them, but they have to be done.
Q.- Did you hesitate at any time to sign up for this cycle because you are a girl?
A.- At first I hesitated, but then I was very good and I don’t regret it. I thought that being a girl I would go wrong, I would not know how to do it, but I am going fine and I am very happy.
Q.- Now you have started in the sector, would you dare to go with your father to do some masonry work?
A.- My father is not working on this, but I think that if I had to dedicate myself to construction he would approve it. Before this course I don’t think about it. Doing this course is going to allow me to continue studying and gain more experience in the sector.
Q.- Why do you think girls are not encouraged to train and be part of this sector?
A.- I don’t know. I think that the bricklayer’s life is considered to be more masculine.But I think that if women like this, they should try and do it.
Q.- What would you say to a young girl who is considering the construction sector?
A.- I would tell her to do it, to go ahead. If there is a girl who wants to study this type of trade, I would encourage her. I would tell her not to be afraid because anyone can work.