What’s it really like to work in construction? We speak to Ella Sherrington, a Commercial Apprentice to find out how she got into the industry, what she does, and tips on working in her field.
Stories of Women in Construction: Ella Sherrington
What do you do?
I carry out measures on site, check the applications sent to us from our subcontractors got the possible work and complete a valuation of these works using our measures information and other sources to do so.
I'll also send the subcontractors site instructions, liaise with them throughout their work and then ensure that they are paid. I also help with the Health and Safety file and the Material Approvals list.
Which company do you work for and what do they do?
I work for Balfour Beatty, who are a construction company specialising in infrastructure projects that are used daily by the public.
How did you get into construction?
I did my A-levels at Salford City College and then followed the Apprenticeship route with Balfour Beatty (who I am still with).
What do you love about your job?
I like having the diversity of being able to sit in the office at my desk and do work, and then be able to go out on site to complete measures and valuations. I really like the atmosphere of my workplace and I really get on with the people I work with.
It's great to go home each day, with the satisfaction of the work I've done that day and the impact I have had on the project.
Where do you want your career to take you?
I would like to become a Commercial Manager one day or a Commercial Director and to be involved in the tender of a job, mitigate risks and look at alternate ways of working.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in construction?
Do it! You can't really go wrong with construction; you have a lot of freedom and will always have a trade/profession.
Also if you're female, don't be put off about going into the construction industry, more women are wanted in the construction industry and you can achieve a high level professional role.
It doesn't matter if you don't have any qualifications in construction or chose the wrong course at college. I studied Creative Music at college and towards the end of my course I realised that it wasn't what I wanted to do.
My dad worked on a building site around the corner from my college, so I would go over to him after college and wait for a lift home. During this time, I started to pick things up and liked the atmosphere and found the work to be interesting. That's when I decided that I wanted to work in the construction industry.
I heard that Balfour Beatty had a career road show and were looking for apprentices, so I decided to go and talk to someone a bit more about being an apprentice. I met with the Commercial Director for the North-West region and told him what I was good at and my career aspirations and goals. He suggested that I apply for the role of Commercial Apprentice as he thought I would do well in the role. I applied and was invited to interview at the London Head Office after completing the online assessment, and I got the job!
The point is even if you don't have the qualifications then you can always go back and do them on your own behalf or through an apprenticeship scheme like I did. A lot of companies in the construction industry these days are looking for more workers and especially apprentices, as they aim to help younger generations.