Hair salon heiress surprises friends with career in engineering

The pic shows, l-r: Ian Parnaby, a lecturer at South Tyneside College's School of General Engineering and an instructor to Ford Engineering Academy's learners, Chloe Kingsland (seated), Renee Laming, the college's Adult Workplace Learning Assessor, and Geoff Ford MBE, Chairman of Ford Aerospace Ltd.
The pic shows, l-r: Ian Parnaby, a lecturer at South Tyneside College's School of General Engineering and an instructor to Ford Engineering Academy's learners, Chloe Kingsland (seated), Renee Laming, the college's Adult Workplace Learning Assessor, and Geoff Ford MBE, Chairman of Ford Aerospace Ltd.

AN ambitious South Tyneside teenager is proving that engineering is no longer a man’s world after cutting short a career in hairdressing to pursue her childhood dream.

Chloe Kingsland is now learning the tools of a different trade after landing a sought-after apprenticeship with Ford Aerospace Ltd.

heard about the academy and my life changed – I was able to do what I knew I’d always wanted. It is early days but I absolutely love it.

The 16-year-old, of Cheshire Grove, Horsley Hill, South Shields, was turned on to engineering aged 11 after taking a technology course at school.

Yet her decision has still shocked friends, who expected her to follow her salon-owner mum Joanne Kingsland into hairdressing.

While she joins Joanne for some part-time weekend work, she now spends four days a week at Ford Aerospace and a further day at South Tyneside College as a milling apprentice.

She gained the post after excelling with the Ford Engineering Academy, a training initiative for 16 to 24-year-olds, which launched in 2013 in conjunction with the college.

Chloe said: “Hairdressing was an option and almost everyone thought I’d do it.

“I even checked it out as a course when I left school because I didn’t know how to get into engineering. Then I heard about the academy and my life changed – I was able to do what I knew I’d always wanted. It is early days but I absolutely love it.

“I was nervous when I started at Ford, but I’ve been welcomed with open arms.

“I’m amazed that engineering still has an image of being male-dominated. Being female has been no barrier at all to getting into this profession. There’s nothing that girls can’t do in it just as well as men. I hope others looking to work in engineering and manufacturing grasp the opportunities that are there.”

Chloe has already proved hugely adept just four weeks into her new role. She played a key part in a Ford presentation to schools and employment support organisations about the importance of them encouraging young people into manufacturing.

They included staff from Connexions in Gateshead and Sunderland, a service which provides confidential advice and support to teenagers, Heworth Grange School in Gateshead, Jarrow School, South Tyneside Services for Young People and North Tyneside Council.

Chloe is one of four female apprentices among 14 at Ford, a specialist in the precision machining and pressing of components and assemblies for the aerospace, defence and other high technology industries.

The company employs around 160 people – including 40 women – at sites in South Shields, Hebburn and North Shields.

Chairman Geoff Ford MBE said: “Chloe is proving a great addition to us.

“She is keen, confident and displays a great determination to do well. Engineering is not a man’s world and no one should think of it that way.

“Engineering and manufacturing have great opportunities for everyone, be they male or female, and I strongly urge anyone with an interest in them to find out more. There are no barriers and there is nothing that young ladies can’t do.”

The academy’s third six-month programme recently finished and recruitment for the fourth will begin in the summer for a September start.

Those entering it gain from six weeks of work placement with one of its supporting companies.

All who successfully pass are guaranteed a job interview, a full-time advanced apprenticeship, or a place on a higher relevant Level 3.

Twitter: @shieldsgazette