Celebrating International Women’s Day in Canada Water

Construction has traditionally been a male-dominated sector, but more and more women are proving they can build just as well as the boys. We want local people to help build the Canada Water development, at the same time as building themselves fulfilling careers that they love. The construction sector offers a huge variety of roles, both on site and across a number of areas from sustainability to management to logistics, and there’s something for everyone. We’re expecting around a hundred construction jobs to be created over the next four years, and we’re committed to helping people access these opportunities regardless of age, gender or background. 

To celebrate International Women’s Day, happening on Tuesday March 8 with the theme of ‘Break the Bias’, we spoke to Kelsey Tanner. Kelsey is an apprentice at Mace, one of our construction contractors, who are building what’s known as Plot A2 by Canada Water Dock that will include a new Southwark Council leisure centre. She pivoted to a career in the built environment after having studied Art & Design at college, turning down the offer of a place at university when she realised the opportunities construction has to offer. In today’s diversified jobs market, Kelsey’s story serves as an inspiration to anyone willing to try something new. 

What was your pathway into the job? What did you do and how did you get to where you are today? 
I applied to Mace for an administrative position, worked on a residential construction site building homes in Greenwich, and after being there for a short time loved the idea of working on site. I spoke to some of the construction managers on the job and asked if there would be any opportunity for me to get some site-based experience. They were really supportive, encouraged me to pursue a role in construction and recommended I join the apprentice scheme within Mace. I’m now two years into the course and loving every minute!

What does the construction sector offer over other sectors?
When people think of construction, I feel they think solely of the building aspect of the job. However, construction has so many different opportunities to offer both on and off a site. There are so many different roles, from design, to HR to marketing to management. It isn’t just about witnessing and managing a build, it’s about meeting different people every day and being a part of a team that works together to overcome issues. It’s about health and safety, community engagement, and building a more advanced and sustainable future. I have been given the opportunity and encouraged to be a part of all of these things. I don’t think many other sectors can offer this variety!

What is it like to be a woman in construction? And how do you get into it?
I feel proud to be a woman working in the built environment. I believe everyone will face setbacks and challenges in their careers, but to me being a female isn’t one of them. There are a few people who will disapprove or make a comment, but it only encourages me to prove them wrong. I hope one day I will be a role model to other young women like me who want to pursue a career in construction. I have received an abundance of support from the Mace apprenticeship team in terms of training and experience and have made good friends on the way, all while working a full-time job. 

What does your day-to-day look like? 
A large portion of my role is spent on site, ensuring health and safety practices are adhered to, attending progress meetings with my team and being involved in the day-to-day running of our site accommodation and welfare. As part of my apprenticeship I also attend university once a week to study an HNC in construction, which is equivalent to completing the first year of a university degree.  I sometimes attend team-building or training days as part of the scheme too.

What do you enjoy about working on the development at Canada Water?
I think the development is a great opportunity to bring more people to Canada Water, and it feels great to work on a building that will provide an amazing new leisure centre for the local area. The Masterplan will also be a chance to prove that sustainable construction is the way forward.

What do you love about your job?
I know it’s a cliché, but every day is different. I meet so many different people day in, day out and it’s amazing to go out on site and see how much change can occur so quickly during a build. There is great pride to be taken from knowing you were a part of something that will be around for years to come.

 

We are committed to making sure that all those who live and work locally, both now and in the future, can benefit from the development and the opportunities it will create. Apprenticeships are available with our construction contractors for those consider a career in construction. For more information about training, apprenticeships and job opportunities, you can contact the Southwark Construction Skills Centre, which acts as a hub for information, training and advice for local residents interested in construction, as well as a centre for training provision for those already in work.

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