Donna Gardner


A 28 year old woman from Newcastle is tackling the typical ‘man’s world’ stereotype by taking her first steps into the male dominated Solar PV Installation industry.

This isn’t Donna-Marie Gardner’s first experience of stepping into a ‘man’s world.’ Eight months ago a very shy woman enrolled on a construction course at Building Futures East. After gaining a Level 1 City & Guilds Certificate in Basic Construction Skills (joinery, painting and decorating, plastering and tiling) Donna became a volunteer at Building Futures East. She has built up a rapport with staff and students alike and her confidence has grown. During her time volunteering she gained a number of skills, which led to an opportunity to enrol on the Renewable Energy Skills Programme, run in partnership by Building Futures East and Group Horizon.

Donna has recently completed a Renewable Skills Introduction course, made possible by Newcastle Science City, giving her a taste of the world of renewable energy installation. The programme has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for her. Donna in the past, by her own admission was content with moving from one dead end job to another now she says, “I don’t just want a job, I want a career.”

Donna has described the course as being, “One of the best courses that I have attended, very interesting and a real eye opener to renewable energy that has helped me on to my chosen career path.”

In an industry dominated by males, Donna is aware that she will face tough competition for jobs, but her enthusiasm and ambition shines through. She already has a number of interviews lined up and has received positive feedback from all job applications that she has submitted.

As a result of the training Donna has set herself new ambitions and can’t wait to get started. As well as the green energy skills learnt, Donna has passed her Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS test) and achieved her Prefabricated Access Supplier’s and Manufacturer’s Association (PASMA) certificate to further increase her employability options.

Group Horizon Director Peter Behan said “Donna is a shining example of what can be achieved. We have no doubt she will make a success of her future and we are pleased with the part we have played in setting her on her way”.

Building Futures East’s Construction Team Leader Michael Johnson added, “When Donna first arrived at Building Futures East she was very shy, lacking confidence and self belief. The change in her has been incredible. All of the construction team at Building Futures East are very proud of her and we wish her every success in the future.”

Group Horizon alongside partners such as Building Futures East are working with individuals across the region to open doors and increase employability amongst those looking to get into Green Energy and associated industries.