Women account for just 12 per cent of the housebuilding workforce and, while most of them have office-based roles, University of Northampton graduate Alex Shine is looking forward to building her career on site.
Architectural Technology graduate Alex initially joined housebuilder Redrow on the company’s rotational graduate training scheme. Having completed the programme she’s now been taken on as an assistant site manager and is currently based at Caddington Woods, between Chaul End and Caddington in Bedfordshire.
“I researched which developers offered graduate training in Northamptonshire, and as Redrow is very prominent in the south Midlands, it seemed like a great opportunity,” said Alex. “My degree focused mainly on the design elements of housebuilding. The graduate scheme enabled me to spend two months in each department which included land, technical, site, sales, commercial and customer services, before choosing which discipline I wanted to focus on for the second year.
“I’ve always been interested in construction, but working on a site was never what I pictured doing – I always thought it would be design because that’s what I had qualified in.”
The 26-year-old, from Northampton, added: “I found I loved being out on site rather than in an office all of the time. No two sites are the same, you get to work with so many different people and every day you learn something new. Hopefully, after a couple more years, I’ll progress to running my own site, which is an even more exciting challenge.”
Research from the NHBC Foundation called for more to be done to encourage women in to the construction industry. And Redrow’s own study found that more than half of young people believe that “a career in construction mostly involves manual labour” – a view that fails to encapsulate the breadth and depth of the careers available. The same survey found that nearly one in five young people nationally believe a career in construction does not require any qualifications beyond GCSEs.
“Redrow are really good because they go into schools and try to show the different roles available,” Alex added.
“When I was on the graduate scheme we tried to encourage people who didn’t have a construction-related degree to consider it because there are so many different disciplines involved in housebuilding.”