Assistant quantity surveyor Ciara Burden is championing apprenticeships to see more women enjoying successful careers in construction.
The 22-year-old is employed as an apprentice by Persimmon Homes South West and is working towards an HNC in Construction and the Built Environment on day release at Exeter College.
Ciara, who has also got her foot on the property ladder by buying her first home from Persimmon, explained: “When I was 16/ 17 I was studying business studies, as much because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life.
“I knew I wanted to get into work and initially I applied for a role as a sales advisor with Persimmon, but during the course of my interview it was suggested that I may be better suited to the commercial aspect of the business rather than sales.
“Ian Chilcott, the commercial director who is now my boss, came into the interview and basically talking to him I was sold on following this route and making a career in construction.”
As Persimmon Homes celebrates National Apprentice Week Ciara says she has no regrets about following the apprenticeship route into her career.
“I sometimes wonder if I have missed out on the whole university experience, but I am seeing friends graduate now and some of them still don’t know what they want to do and some are struggling to find jobs, so I know I have done the right thing for myself.
“This route has been fantastic for me, I don’t have the student debt, I am working and establishing myself professionally, I have been able to buy a house and I love what I do.
“Being able to take experience from practical examples of my work has helped enormously with the classroom studying.
“There is a great team behind me at Persimmon and I would encourage anyone to consider the apprenticeship route for on-the-job training and particularly for girls looking for long-term careers. Construction is still perceived as a man’s world, but there is absolutely no reason why it should be. I have given talks at colleges and schools about how construction is a career for life for both girls and boys.
“Everyone is so respectful whether it’s on site or in the office. I love my career and being an apprentice was an excellent way to begin.”
Ian added: “When we met Ciara at her interview and went through her CV it seemed obvious that she would be suited to a career in the commercial department.
“We were delighted to take her on and offer her the opportunities of becoming an apprentice and gaining her qualifications while working.
“Ciara brings real enthusiasm to her role and I am sure she has a bright future ahead of her.”
Ciara has bought her first home at Cranbrook and shares it with her partner Pace May, who she met at college while studying her apprenticeship.