Iria García, a teacher at Fundación Laboral de la Construcción, has been teaching the course “Coated electrode welding and TIG” since last December at the Training Centre that the joint entity has in Santiago de Compostela.
At the age of 19, Iria Garcia began training in the construction industry and shortly afterwards she started working in the sector. Since last December, she has been teaching the course “Coated electrode welding and TIG” at the Training Centre of Fundación Laboral de la Construcción in Santiago de Compostela. In her work there are usually not many ‘trainers’. That is why she is aware of the importance of women becoming more integrated in this industry. “We are working people; we are equal”, stresses Iria, who, above all, feels “respected as a person, not because she is a man or a woman”.
QUESTION: What is your background and previous experience?
ANSWER: My training began when I was 19 years old, and at 21 years old I was already a technician in Welding and Boilermaking, and I started to work in a heavy metal construction company. With the construction crisis in 2010, I did a new training in an AFD course in Coated Electrode Welding and TIG (as I am currently teaching). This course opened a door for me to a new job in the company where I did my internship. During my years of experience I did several courses and approvals in the naval sector and, later, I continued in the metal sector in other fields, such as light metal carpentry. And now I am a senior technician in Metal Construction and a teacher of Vocational Training for Employment.
Q.- How did you get in touch with the construction sector and why did you decide to ‘become a trainer’?
A.- I wasn’t clear about what I wanted to do in life, but I knew perfectly well that I didn’t want to go to university. That’s why I ruled out doing the high school. I wanted to learn a profession and it was the only free place left in the professional training cycles where I live… It would be fate. As the years went by, I decided to become a trainer in order to continue in my profession, but in another place, since construction sites and the workshop were part of my life. Now I would like to pass on my knowledge and help achieve the goal of many, which will be mine.
Q.- How did you find out about the Fundación Laboral courses and, in particular, the Electrode Welding and TIG course?
A.- I have known about these courses for more than a decade. It was the National Job Search Service that provided me with this information. Back then there were not as many ICTs as there are today.
Q.- How has your experience been as a woman trainer in a sector where there are hardly any female figures?
A.- I would define this experience as rewarding.
Q.- How did your students react when they saw that their teacher was a woman?
A.- I have never been questioned about this. If they talk about it it will be among themselves, I don’t know. I feel respected as a person, not for being a man or a woman.
Q.- What did you find most difficult at the beginning of your time as a trainer in this sector?
A.- What did it hardest…? I think it was overcoming my fears and doubts. I had no hesitation in knowing that I wanted to be a trainer, but I did have conflicts with my own self…
Q.- Would you say that equality is promoted in the sector, or that there is still a lot to do?
A.- Of course it is promoted.It remains to be done, but I believe that a lot is being done, and well.
Q.- In your opinion, what has advanced the most and what have we left behind?
A.- I think that implementing the Gender Equality Law is a great advance. These training courses include transversal modules on equality between men and women. Depending on the case, priority is given to the female gender, which helps us to see equality and to stop being macho. The main thing is that people become aware of this, and education is the basis.
Q.- Do you know more female trainers in the sector and what do they tell you about their experience?
A.- I do know women trainers, but I have never asked them about it. As soon as I see them I will ask them, of course.
Q.- Today, only 8.4% of the workers in the sector are women, according to data from the Labour Force Survey. What would you say to a young girl who is considering training and working in the construction sector?
A.- I would tell her that if she wants to work in the construction sector, she should train and work. That she should never question it because she is a woman. We are working people. We are all equal.