Passionate and committed, Fatima “Faith” Bahwish, 18, wants to put her mark on the world and following her time with ACT, Wales’ leading training provider, and a new bricklaying career with KEIR Construction, she’s doing just that.

Moving from Bradford to Cardiff during the pandemic, Faith looked like she had her academic journey mapped out ahead of her, studying Maths and Science A-Level at her local college. However, she soon realised that her choices weren’t making her happy and a chance opportunity with her uncle in construction, set her on a new path.

“I left high school with my GCSEs and went to college just because everyone else was. I wasn’t loving it so my uncle suggested I work with him while I figured out what to do next. He is a multi-skilled construction worker who owns his own business, so I worked with him for a couple of weeks during summer and absolutely loved it. I went home every day feeling like I’d achieved something and I really enjoyed the job satisfaction of it.”

As someone who previously considered pursuing a career in art and loves being outdoors using their hands, Faith trusted her newly-ignited passion in construction and was eager to pursue it.

“I spoke to a learner representation about my career options and they suggested ACT and the Jobs Growth Wales+ (JGW+) programme would be a great fit. I have really enjoyed the flexibility on offer at ACT and I’ve learnt a lot. JGW+ has taught me really useful skills to enable me to be employable and find a job.”

JGW+ is a training and development programme for 16–18 year olds helping them acquire the skills, qualifications, and experience to get a job or get into further training. Understanding that no one person is the same, the JGW+ programme is entirely unique and tailored to suit the needs of the individual learner.

In Faith’s case, she chose to focus on studying Construction and gained hands-on training and qualifications at ACT’s Hadfield Skills Centre. As Faith’s skills progressed ACT introduced her to KEIR Construction, where she is now employed as a bricklayer. A role she is very excited and passionate about!

“Bricklaying is very demanding physically but I enjoy doing something in an area that people aren’t sure you can do as a woman. I love proving them wrong and doing a really good job. I think learning a trade is one of the most important practical things you can do in life. I know how to build a house to live in and we’re always going to need houses”

According to Women In Construction, only 10% of the construction workforce are females, with only 2.5% making up tradespeople. With construction jobs predicted to rise by over two million in 2022, Faith’s career choice is looking very promising. She believes that the support she received from ACT has been huge in helping set her up on her career path.

“I’m so grateful ACT put me in touch with KEIR. They even escorted me to my interview and helped sort me out with my CSCS card. Without ACT I wouldn’t even have thought to approach KEIR so the support has been incredible.”

Following her time with ACT on JGW+, Faith is literally building a new future for herself and is excited at the opportunities that lie ahead. For her, the sky is literally the limit!

Life is full of opportunities and presents so many experiences. For me, every single day has to be different and I need to learn something new too. I feel like bricklaying offers me that. I love the idea of building something huge and being responsible for a landmark which lives on forever in history long after you’re gone. I want to contribute to the world and leave a mark on it.

With a wise head on young shoulders, and her steely grit of determination, Faith will surely do just that. She shares this incredible piece of advice to anyone, regardless of age, who is considering their career options.

“It’s so important to follow what you want to do rather than what you feel pressured to do. I went to college thinking that was my only choice and I discovered there’s so many other ways to live. You don’t just have to follow the same path as everyone else. That’s why I love ACT because I was able to explore what I wanted to do with my life. I’m proud of wanting to be different. The majority of people are hugely responsive to my career choice. When I tell people I’m a bricklayer, they always smile with surprise and say ‘that’s really, really cool’.”