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International Women’s Day 2023: How Chelbie Jones has built a successful career in constructio

When Chelbie Jones left school 10 years ago, she was about to enrol on a hairdressing course when she realised it wasn’t really the career she wanted to pursue.

So, she took a leap of faith, enrolled on a carpentry course, learned the tricks of the construction trade and is now Site Manager at Bouygues UK’s Kingsway site in Swansea.

The 25-year-old has been with the construction firm for the past six years and advises any woman who is considering a career in construction to go for it.

Chelbie, from Pembroke, said: “Going from hairdressing to carpentry is a big difference, but one that I’m so glad I went for. My uncle was a carpenter at the time I made that major decision and I didn’t really have a full understanding as to what carpentry actually was – but I proceeded with it anyway and I loved it.”

Three years later Chelbie qualified as a carpenter and then enrolled on a NVQ CIOB Level 4 Diploma in Construction Site Management before joining Bouygues UK as a Trainee Site Manager at Pembroke Learning Campus as a work placement. This role gave her the perfect opportunity to learn how to plan and coordinate a project from start to finish. Site management involves organising work schedules, costings and budget. supervising operations on-site, hiring and managing staff. monitoring subcontractors, checking materials, inspecting work and overseeing quality control.

Chelbie was also a Trainee Site Manager at her former school, Pembroke High School, which was renamed Ysgol Harri Tudur and built by Bouygues UK. She ran the school ambassadors’ scheme – which allows pupils to have first-hand experience of the build to share with their peers.

Chelbie continues: “I did some further training and now, five years later, I have been promoted to a fully-fledged Site Manager on the Kingsway site. I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. The fact I am a woman has made no difference to my career prospects at Bouygues UK at all. I’ve had many opportunities to train and learn new skills with the support of Bouygues UK.

“I would advise anyone thinking of getting into construction to go for it. There are endless opportunities and my best advice would be ‘If you don’t know, just ask.’ No question is stupid, and, believe me, I’ve asked a lot of questions!”

John Boughton, Managing Director for Wales at Bouygues UK said: “Chelbie is a wonderful example of someone who has grasped every opportunity offered to her at Bouygues UK and is enjoying a successful career in a dynamic, diverse and evolving industry. Whether it’s working behind the scenes in the marketing department, operating a crane on site, coordinating BIM or quantity surveying, the construction industry has never been a more varied and exciting career choice for women.

“What was once considered a male-dominated world is now home to ambitious, skilled women who are breaking down the barriers to smash gender stereotypes and bring a fresh perspective to the construction industry.”

Developed by Swansea Council, the 71/72 Kingsway scheme that Chelbie site manages forms a key part of an on-going regeneration programme that’s transforming the city. The project includes some innovative features to ensure it is carbon zero in operation and, once complete, the scheme will be worth £32.6m a year to Swansea’s economy.

The project is being part-funded by the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal and supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. As well as 114,000 square feet of commercial floor space featuring flexible co-working and networking opportunities, a new link between Oxford Street and The Kingsway will also be constructed. Completion of construction is anticipated in early 2024.

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