More cash for women's careers initiative

A PROJECT which encourages unemployed women in east Suffolk to consider working in traditionally male-dominated careers is to be extended to include support for those thinking about launching their own business.

A PROJECT which encourages unemployed women in east Suffolk to consider working in traditionally male-dominated careers is to be extended to include support for those thinking about launching their own business.

The DIDO initiative, a community learning project devised by Suffolk County Council, was first launched two years ago with £100,000 of co-funded money from the European Social Fund via the Learning and Skills Council, Suffolk.

It aimed to identify and overcome obstacles faced by women face when considering a career in sectors such as construction, shipping, transport and engineering, being targeted specifically at women aged 25 and over in the Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal areas.

Now, the project has received a further £150,000 in ESF money to continue its work until 2008, and offer additional advice and training for women wishing to become self-employed and set up their own businesses.


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Vivienne Du Bois, contract manager at Suffolk LSC, said: “We had such a positive response to the original DIDO project that we were very keen to continue the work we had begun. This extra funding will allow us to particularly focus on helping women to become self employed in these sectors and to offer business start up advice and training.”

As a result of the original DIDO project, 42 women undertook work experience designed to give them knowledge of the workplace and build confidence. Taster sessions run by local training providers and work experience at Felixstowe port, on construction sites and in LGV and digger driving have been undertaken by trainees.

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Individual work experience has led to many benefits. One DIDO participant did a week's work experience with a structural engineering company and has now been offered work there with day release to enable her to study for a foundation degree in construction. In all, 20 women have gone on to further education as a result of taking part in the project.

David Morrall, Europe director at the Government Office for the East of England, said, “We are delighted that the DIDO project has been awarded this extension to its funding, it really is an excellent example of how European funds are making a difference to the lives of people in our region.

“By managing to effectively address the stereotypical views of women in the workplace, DIDO has enabled many women to pursue careers that in the past may have been out of bounds to them - benefiting both employees and businesses in the East of England.”

n Women want to be their own boss but most are not prepared to take the financial risk involved in setting up a business, a survey showed yesterday.

The poll of 1,000 women by Red magazine showed that more than four out of five had thought of starting a business venture, but most said they had been put off by the financial risk or the lack of money.

Almost half of those questioned said they believed they could do a better job than their boss.

Maxine Benson, of Everywoman, which helped with the research, said women could learn business and confidence skills to overcome barriers to setting up a firm.

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