HUNDREDS of students have been waiting on GCSE results but for one, there was no panic.

Sixteen-year-old Katie Harvey is a month into an apprenticeship as an electrical engineer with Long Hanborough-based electrical contractor Darke & Taylor.

The former Matthew Arnold student, who lives in Cumnor, will be given an intensive mix of practical experience and theory during the four-year course.

When qualified, she will earn £25,000-£30,000, rising to £30,000-£40,000 in the future once she is fully experienced.

She said: “I am really enjoying it.

“I follow the person I am working with at the site all day to watch what they are doing and they give you tasks.”

Less than one in 1,000 electrical contractors are female, according to the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting, which regulates training and work for the industry.

As part of its Jobs for the Girls’ campaign, it sends female ambassadors into schools.

Darke & Taylor has boosted its female workforce by 200 per cent - up from 5 to 14 – in two years.

These include four electrical apprentices, a structured cabling engineer, quantity surveyor, an operations and compliance manager, finance and maintenance managers.

Taya McCalmon and Megan Wheatley, also apprentice electrical engineers and apprentice data communications fire and security engineer Becky Francis joined with Katie.

Darke & Taylor takes on 12-16 apprentices each year.

The firm’s operations and compliance manager Tanya Webb said: “During our apprenticeship recruitment process and visits to careers fairs, we actively encourage young women to consider a career in engineering and this has paid off.

“I usually attend, as I get a chance to speak to potential new recruits and enthuse about the fantastic opportunities for career progression open to women.”

Managing director Paul McNaughton says the firm struggles to recruit female electrical engineers.

Typically, of 50 applications for apprenticeships, just five are from women.

He said: “We go into local schools and job fairs but there is very low interest from female students.”

The industry had an image problem in the past which put off women and schools compete for funding, so don’t always promote alternatives, he added.

“But we find those who apply are very enthusiastic, because they have often gone against what teachers and parents have been telling them.”

Katie added: “I wanted to do something practical but didn’t know exactly what but there weren’t many practical options in school.

“My advice is to just go for it.”