“With these jobs you improve people’s quality of life. You contribute something to society to move forward”

Nohora Rodríguez, student of the professional certificate of “Masonry Factories” at Fundación Laboral de la Construcción in Toledo and future entrepreneur of the construction sector.

This 53-year-old Colombian woman has decided to train to know this sector from the grass roots, to know what happens on the building site. She has her future clear, Nohora wants to open a consulting and construction company and to achieve this objective she considers training to be a priority. A specialized training that has just begun through the Certificate of Professionalism of “Factories of Masonry” that she is studying in the Training Center of Fundación Laboral de la Construcción in Toledo. A course that he seeks to complement with another to consolidate his career in construction.

QUESTION: Did you have any experience or relationship with the sector before doing the course with Fundación Laboral?

ANSWER: Yes, about 18 years ago in Colombia I had a small company that bought houses, I renovated them and sold them. It had some relationship with the world of construction. I had to leave this business because of financial losses and I started in another business that distributes bricks. The need makes you to get by.

Q.- Did you work on site or on management issues?

A.- I worked in the area of construction contracts, employees and work supervision. This is what I would like to do now, I would like to start a small company and do this type of work. I am quite perfectionist and I think it could go well.

Q.- What differences do you find between the sector here and in Colombia?

A.- There you hire one or two bricklayers and do the whole house. I don’t know if it’s the same here, in Colombia you have a good bricklayer, becouse he’s a plumber and everything. In Colombia, as it happens in Spain, in the big construction sites of buildings there are specialties.

Q.- What training did you have when you dedicated yourself to these work supervision tasks?

A.- I had basic training. In addition, when I started in the housing business, I began to study a career in technology, of architecture and engineering. It would be, more or less, a vocational training in a technical school here, in Spain. I was a couple of semesters short of finishing my studies. I left them because the second part of the Autocad scared me and because I had to change my business.

Q.- How did you find out about the Fundación Laboral course? Why did you register for the course?

A.- I was going to a computer workshop in Illescas. There were several conferences there and among them, Begoña, the head of Training in Toledo, told us what Fundación Laboral was about and spoke to us about this specific course. I wanted a course on something related to designs, finishes and construction. This was last year and, since then, I have been waiting to have one organised. At the moment I am very happy with the course and with our teacher.

Q.- You told me that, although you had dedicated yourself to construction, you had not worked on site, how was your first day laying bricks?

A.- I had a small idea of what it was, because when I was in direct contact with the site, I could see what it was like, but I had never laid any. After the first day, I had some pain, but now we are working well. I had always paid attention to how others put them on and now it’s my turn. It is also a way of changing perspective and changing the way of seeing the bricklayer, of how the work is in the first person. You have to feel it in order to know how to do things.

Q.- How is your time on the course going? What do you find most interesting?

A.- We’ve been looking at different types of walls, materials… I’ve also started. The thing that is most striking to me is to see how you have to know everything to build a house. I like facing brick a lot, because you can do very nice things with it. Here you can handle it very well and make details that give the facades different textures.

Q.- What did you expect from this course? Has it been fulfilled?

A.- This is what I expected from the course, I registered with the hope that this course would be like this. If the trainer hadn’t persuaded me, I wouldn’t have come back. I liked it at the beginning and I thought: “it’s worth it, I’ll do my best”. My son and I have a deal. He supports me in this and if when I finish, I find a job, he will start this course too, because it is worth it.

Q.- In one month you will start your internship in a company. What do you expect to learn in the internship?

A.- I have nothing decided yet. I hope that some company will give me the chance to gain experience, with a good builder who teach me and polish me up. But I have to work on it. In my age, even though it takes a bit, I can get things done.

Q.- Are more girls on the course? How is the relationship with your classmates?

A.- Yes, we are three girls in a group of six, and there has been no problem between us. We are all great.

Q.- It is a high percentage of women on this type of course…

A.- Yes, there are very few women in the sector, but I think it is due to a lack of information. I found out about this course because I became obsessed and interested in this. I didn’t want to do anything else. But sometimes it is difficult to know this type of course and that women can be trained on it. There is a lack of visibility of the sector in general.

Q.- Why do you think women are not encouraged to be part of this sector?

A.- I suppose they think it is a very physically demanding job, but there are always other types of work, more specific jobs, such as painting, which are not so hard physically. Crafts more delicate and in knowing and acquiring a technique, for which you have to be trained. When you train and acquire the technique, I think you are ready to do it.

Q.- An important aspect when working in construction is the age, do you feel as qualified to do the job as other younger colleagues?

A.- I think that an older person, with the experience, can contribute more to an employer. Young people have a different conception of things.

Q.- Why do you think young people are not encouraged to join the sector?

A.- I think they don’t like it because they think that construction requires a lot of effort. It is true that it is not the same as sitting in an office. You have to be willing and like it. There are people who start by trying, to find a job and end up liking it. I believe that a person has to have a vocation for this type of work, like someone who studies medicine or nursing.

Q.- Do you want to continue your training in the sector? Would you like to know about other fields of construction?

A.- Of course I would. I would continue training because we need people to work in this. I would like to do a course to learn to formwork… In Illescas I am doing one on interior design. I am doing these courses because I really like them. This is a very nice job.

Q.- How do you think the sector will evolve in the next few years?

A.- I think that construction has advanced a lot in recent years, and it is going to continue to do so. In any case, I think that traditional construction is not going to disappear. There are new techniques and new materials, but the traditional will always be present.

Q.- What would you say to a girl who is considering entering the construction sector?

A. I think it is a perfect profession for those who are interested in design, who want to offer comfort to people. Here you do things for people, things to improve people’s quality of life. You contribute something to society to improve and advance.

Q.- How do you imagine yourself as a worker in a year’s time?

A.- I have to have a business related to this within a year. Something small, where I can make small renovations and projects, and where there is also some customer service, such as advice.

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