Shez Grigg

New Directions Award | Sponsored by Skills and Education Group


New Directions Award

Following a decade-long career in food retail, Shez changed direction and followed her passion for carpentry and joinery. Shez completed construction courses at Bolton College and overcame obstacles to entering a male-dominated industry, and now works at a bespoke cabinet makers.

“I started studying at Bolton College when I was 29. I’m really into crafts so I took the plunge and joined a Construction Multi-Skills course. This covered brickwork, plastering, painting and decorating, and carpentry and joinery. It turned out that carpentry and joinery really resonated with me.

“Balancing a full-time job in food retail and being a mum was difficult, but my tutors recognised my dedication and fast-tracked me to a Level 2 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery. I finished this course in May 2023 and now work full-time as a carpenter and joiner, where I’m perfecting my skills daily. It wasn’t easy: I initially faced a lot of job rejections in a male-dominated industry, but I kept pushing and was so pleased to get this job.

“Professionally, the shift from a decade-long stint in food retail to a creative role in carpentry and joinery has been completely transformative. I’m constantly challenged and inspired by the work I do, finding fulfilment and pride in every project. It’s not only given me a deep sense of purpose, but a good work and life balance, with structured hours that allow me to spend more time with my daughter.”

Karen Westsmith, Assistant Principal of Curriculum & Quality at Bolton College, said: “Shez’s success in reskilling and changing career not only highlights her strength and tenacity, but also challenges stereotypes, inspiring other women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated fields. Beyond personal achievement, Shez’s impact extends to her family. Her daughter, inspired by her mum’s journey, aspires to follow in her footsteps.”