Mollie Leach is an apprentice welder at A&P Tyne Ltd in Newcastle. She is also a Lincoln Electric Women in Welding (WIW) Ambassador. The overarching role of the WIW Ambassador is to be a positive role model to inspire the next generation of female welders by supporting Lincoln Electric at a range of Women in Welding events throughout the UK.
“It’s vital to celebrate all the women who are currently trailblazing and opening doors for young girls and other women to be able to walk through so they are not being disregarded just because they’re female.”
Sparking my interest in welding
I left school in 2018 when I’d completed my GCSEs. I decided I wanted more of a challenge than the school setting could give me so I applied for an apprenticeship through a training provider and up popped one within welding. To be totally honest, I didn’t know anything about welding before I started my apprenticeship but as I looked into it and did some research, I thought it’d be something I’d love to try to get into.
Therefore, I accepted an offer from my former employer to become a welding apprentice. Today I’m three and a half years into my apprenticeship – still enjoying it and still learning every day.
Rising from the ashes
The onset of COVID massively impacted my apprenticeship and, unfortunately, I was made redundant twice at the height of the first wave of the pandemic. Despite the setbacks, I tried to remain positive because the world as a whole was already a difficult enough place just to get by in, so I knew I couldn’t let being made redundant bring me down.
So, I began the search to find a new workplace for the second time and I was fortunate enough to be hired by my current employer who took a chance and gave me a position with them. Since November 2020 I’ve been back in the workforce again and it feels great!
Diversity means development, change and progress
Not only in welding, but I think also in many male-dominated industries there is an increasing amount of women coming into such workplaces and industries. The way I see it, a wider range of careers amongst many different workplaces and industries are becoming more accessible to everyone.
Nowadays in schools, colleges and universities women and young girls are exposed to many more career options and potential learning experiences, whereas beforehand careers in industries like welding were typically directed more to young boys and men.
I think the change is positive and yes, for many people who’ve been in the industries a long time it’s very new and different world but I believe it’s a good thing and something that’s definitely going to help industries such as welding develop, change and progress. I believe the more diverse the knowledge and skillset we have is, the greater the outcomes and quality of the work produced will be.
Becoming a Lincoln Electric Women in Welding Ambassador
My role with Lincoln Electric is something I’ve absolutely loved being part of. Being a Women in Welding Ambassador revolves around showcasing the opportunities there are within welding to women, in particular, and exposing the trade to more children and young adults.
In hosting STEM days I’m lucky enough to have been involved in some great events with local school children already where the children did a series of engineering and design-based tasks and got to showcase a bit of what I do day to day and educate them on anything they wanted to know.
It also gives the children opportunities to ask as many questions as they like and gives them a chance to hear first-hand about the trade and our own personal experiences so they can decide if it may be something they’d like to do when they leave school.
Women in Welding events
We’ve currently got more STEM days organised with local schools and colleges. We’ll be attending alongside the new Men in Welding Ambassadors. It will be great to finally meet them as I think it’ll be good to have the male perspective of the industry showcased to the young scholars as well as the women’s aspects. I think it’ll really help give them a more well-rounded experience.
I can’t wait to get back to doing the fun activities we host on the STEM days with the children as it’s great to see such young people be so engaged and excited by all things engineering and to be able to let their imaginations run free in the process.
Celebrating International Day of Girl
I think it’s important for us to celebrate International Day of the Girl so we can reflect on how far we’ve come. It’s vital to celebrate all the women who are currently trailblazing and opening doors for young girls and other women to be able to walk through so they are not being disregarded just because they’re female.
That’s why we must celebrate every single woman and girl who has been told they aren’t good enough because they’re a girl, who’s been told they can’t do a particular job or activity because they’re a girl, or that they wouldn’t be successful within a certain industry.
For me, that’s why it’s important to celebrate and reflect on every single great woman and girl out there and to give everyone the recognition they deserve for changing the norm and breaking down barriers.
Completing my apprenticeship
For me, the next major milestone in my working life is completing my apprenticeship. I finish it in May 2022 so therefore a lot of my efforts now are just based on trying to progress and learn as much as I possibly can. I want to make sure that when I finish my apprenticeship I’m confident and well educated enough to do anything I would like to do.