From education to employment

Beyond the hard hat: The future construction workforce

Priyanka and Megan

The construction industry is the bedrock of the UK’s economic growth. It relies on skilled workers to produce quality infrastructure across housing, healthcare and education to support the communities we live in. For such hands-on talent, apprenticeships provide the ideal route into the industry. As a 127 year old family contractor, we are passionate about bringing new skills into the industry through apprenticeships, with 11% of our workforce currently filled with apprenticeships.

National Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity to dispel the myths and misconceptions about our industry, which is sometimes dismissed as an archaic men’s club. But when you look beyond the hardhat, you will see that we are progressive and we offer a range of diverse roles to people from many walks of life. We work internally and across our supply chain, not only to develop skills in practical trades but also in marketing, technology and human centred roles.

We see apprentices progress through our ranks to management and even director level of the business. This is due to our unwavering belief that people make places, which means putting employment first and nurturing the skills in our business. Priyanka Mistry and Megan Molloy are shining examples of the depth and breadth of skills our apprenticeships have to offer, each representing key roles in the future of construction.

Priyanka Mistry – Creative project apprentice

Age 22

“I began my apprenticeship at Seddon in May 2023. As a fine art graduate, it may be surprising to some that I’ve ended up in an apprenticeship in construction. I had originally planned to be an art therapist but routes into that career are limited. After exploring various options, I was eventually introduced to Seddon through Power Up Agency, who recommended me for a creative project apprenticeship.

Entering an industry with no prior experience meant I’ve had a lot to learn. I work largely with the preconstruction team and learning about the work involved in that area has been eye opening. When you’re out and about you see buildings going up but you don’t consider all of the work that goes into getting them there.

Every day in my role is different. My main tasks involve reviewing and assessing inbound communications, as well as a lot of design work. This includes maintaining the website, producing project case studies and designing promotional materials. I’ve been able to help the bid team to prepare for tender presentations, ensuring all the information is ready for them to present. Additionally, I’ve started a blog and a podcast to promote that varied opportunities Seddon provides for its apprentices, this includes preparing for our latest episode on National Apprenticeship Week.

My favourite part about doing apprenticeship is that I get to learn on the job – the combination of theory and practical is important to me. I also enjoy getting the opportunity to network and build up my contacts in the sector.

While construction is seen as a male dominated industry, I work with a largely female team. Being surrounded by strong female leaders has helped me to ease into the role. However, I don’t see a lot of ethnic diversity in construction. I’m South Asian and eventually I would like to see more people in the industry who look like me. It’s such a brilliant sector to work in and I think it should be promoted more within other cultures. It’s a sector that serves the community and helps society to grow. I think it’s important for people all cultures to be involved in this process.

There is so much room to grow through an apprenticeship like this and everyone I’ve met has been inviting and made me feel comfortable. If I could give any advice to someone thinking of starting an apprenticeship in construction, I would say it’s all about taking risks and putting yourself out there –you won’t be disappointed.”

Megan Molloy – Apprentice site manager

Age 18

“I began my apprenticeship as a site manager at Seddon in August 2023. At college, I was encouraged to consider the traditional university route but I knew that it wasn’t for me. I’m a practical person and I love the hands on approach that an apprenticeship offers. I find it much easier to learn this way than I would writing assignments at university. My dad works in construction and he introduced me to the idea of a career in this industry, based on my interest in design and technology at school.

My average day on site begins at 7:30am. A lot of my work is about communication and people management. It’s my responsibility to ensure everyone knows what they are doing and that all tasks are being completed to schedule. If there are new people coming to site, then it’s up to me to help facilitate inductions. I liaise closely with the site manager and project manager about my workload and support them with their day to day tasks, ending each day by filling out the site diary.

People often ask me if it’s challenging to work as a woman in a male dominated industry and the answer falls somewhere between yes and no. I am a naturally confident person which means I’m unphased by many social situations, however I have had to get used to people taking a second look when they see me on site. That being said, I’ve had no negative experiences – when I want to speak up, I’m always listened to and everyone has been welcoming and supportive. People might find it surprising that this is my job but I enjoy it.

If I were to offer advice to other women thinking of entering the industry, don’t be put off by worrying people might judge you. It might feel like everyone is going to care but the truth is that they don’t. I find it empowering to be a woman working on site, it makes the job more rewarding. I was confident before I started my apprenticeship and I feel even more confident in myself now.”

By Nicola Hodkinson – Owner and director of Seddon

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