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Building a career in construction at The Woodlands

From Croupier dealer in a casino to nail technician and now a driver of a 22-tonne excavator on a construction site. This is a varied CV for Sophie Smith who is just getting started in her new career, but one thing she knows for certain is that construction is an industry she wants to stay in.

Currently sub-contracted by Owen Pugh onto Story Homes’ Shotley Bridge development, The Woodlands, 23-year-old Sophie is one of the most versatile workers on site. Qualified to drive a wide range of vehicles including the full range of 360 excavators, 180 JCBs, telescopic forklifts, ride on rollers and dumpers, she has also recently gained her Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) Competent Operator Blue Card – more than a year earlier than the average plant operator.

“I really enjoy working on a construction site, and want to build on my skills and experience as much as I can” said Sophie.

“I’m often the only female worker on a building site. When I first started I was expecting to get some comments and bias from the other workers, but I’ve found most people to be very welcoming and easy to work with. They treat me exactly the same as they would anyone else.

“I’ve had quite a varied career path, but I am so glad I started working in construction. In the future I would like to progress more into a training role.”

It was by chance that Sophie went along to an open day at plant hire company Hewden when she was 21-years-old. She was immediately offered a place on its training academy and lived in Preston for two months whilst she trained across the company’s full range of vehicles.

Paul Powton, site manager at The Woodlands, said: “It’s not often that we have workers on site who are as diversely qualified as Sophie – it’s really impressive and so useful for me as a site manager. With Sophie’’s varied qualifications and experiences, she can apply her skills and qualifications to most tasks on site.”

Story Homes is currently working on the fourth and final stage of The Woodlands, an award-winning development which, when finished, will comprise of more than 200 family homes built to Lifetime Homes standard and Level 4 status in the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Sophie added: “My family and friends aren’t surprised that I’ve chosen this career as I have always gone against expectations. It would be nice to see more women working on construction sites in the future. It can be exciting and it’s rewarding to see the impact of your work at the end of a job.

“My advice to any girls thinking about going into construction is to just go for it and don’t listen if people try to put you off. The industry is changing, and women are welcomed into construction and engineering roles at all levels. Now is the time to get involved.”

To find out more about working for Story Homes visit our careers website.

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