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HS2 apprentice’s commitment to support Muslim women in the workplace: HS2's inspirational apprentice, Leena Begum
HS2 apprentice’s commitment to support Muslim women in the workplace: HS2's inspirational apprentice, Leena Begum

HS2 apprentice’s commitment to support Muslim women in the workplace

HS2 is marking Race Equality Week and National Apprenticeship Week (5-11 February) by celebrating the achievements of apprentice Leena Begum who has driven the roll out of a range of personal protective equipment (PPE) for women in accordance with their faith.

Leena, from East London, is a civil engineering apprentice with HS2’s London contractor, Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV) and is part of the team helping to deliver Greenpark Way headhouse and vent shaft in west London. 

Leena’s day to day role combines office and site based duties, and with a growing number of women in the workforce, she led an initiative to improve the range of PPE available to women.

In accordance with her own faith, Leena wears a headscarf, but the range of PPE available to site-based employees didn’t embrace this. She recognised the gap, began researching PPE hijabs and designed a prototype in conjunction with a leading manufacturer.

Leena discussed the idea with her management team. Soon, her visionary submission, which also captured the need for an improved range of maternity PPE, was embraced by the SCS team and within weeks, a new catalogue of PPE products was available to employees.

Crediting Leena’s drive to support women in the workplace, James Richardson, Managing Director at Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture said,

“Leena’s approach to challenging the availability of appropriate PPE for everyone is an example of how talented and empowered apprentices can bring innovation and new ways of thinking to HS2.  She saw something that needed fixing, she set about finding a workable solution and she has now secured positive change for herself and for women across our industry.

“As we power ahead with building Britain’s new high speed line, this is the perfect time to look at the different apprenticeships available across HS2.  Whatever apprentice path you choose, you’ll be encouraged and empowered to turbocharge your career and make your mark on Europe’s largest and most exciting infrastructure project.”

Leena was nominated for an HS2 Inspiration Award in recognition of her achievements and the judging panel agreed she was a well-deserved winner.

Speaking about her award win, and her drive to ensure all women can ‘be themselves’ when at work, Leena said:

“It is really great to have my work recognised by HS2. HS2 is paving the way for females in the industry and seeing the new PPE range adopted across our megaproject is another step in the right direction.  Civil engineering is about problem solving and we can’t do that if the workforce isn’t diverse – that’s why initiatives like this are so important.”

HS2 is passionate about the role apprentices play within its workforce and has committed to creating at least 2,000 apprenticeships during the lifecycle of the project. Over 1,400 apprentices have already played a part in HS2’s construction and to mark National Apprenticeship Week, recruitment is now open for more apprenticeship roles.

For more information about becoming an apprentice and playing a part in Britain’s biggest build, visit hs2.org.uk/careers

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