Apprenticeship leads to successful new career for Shelly

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Being hand-picked to represent promising apprentices at the unveiling of a new construction training hub has been one of the highlights of Bellway apprentice Shelly McLean’s first year with the company.

Trainee assistant site manager Shelly, 41, from Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, has just begun working at the recently launched Primrose Grove development in Wimblington after stints at sites in Huntingdon, Peterborough, Stilton and Witchford.

In the past 12 months, Shelly has taken on additional responsibilities, received glowing feedback from customers and even had the opportunity to meet Princess Anne at the official royal opening of the National House Building Council’s Cambridge Training Hub.

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Shelly said: “I didn’t expect that a year into working with Bellway, I would be meeting Princess Anne and would have been invited to an event like this.

Trainee assistant site manager Shelly McLean at Bellway’s Elder Brook development in PeterboroughTrainee assistant site manager Shelly McLean at Bellway’s Elder Brook development in Peterborough
Trainee assistant site manager Shelly McLean at Bellway’s Elder Brook development in Peterborough

“The NHBC Head of Training had asked all of her NHBC trainers to recommend apprentices from the construction site supervisor programme and I was nominated. That was really nice to hear. I was told that this meant that I had potential and that I am standing out on my course which is nice to know.

“After rotating between three developments, I have spent the last three months at The Vickers in Witchford, where I was responsible for handing over the last five houses myself. I found these handovers quite daunting, however I’ve had some great training and it has been really good to put it into practice.

“I have just had a NHBC customer survey come back from one of the residents who made some lovely comments about how positive I made the experience. I got a bit emotional as this was the first time that I have got that kind of recognition from a customer.”

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Shelly joined Bellway in April 2023 after completing the Women into Home Building programme which saw her undertake a two-week work placement at Bellway’s Whitehill Gardens development in Godmanchester. She then began her 18-month construction site supervisor apprenticeship in September that year.

Princess Anne at the official royal opening of the NHBCs Cambridge Training HubPrincess Anne at the official royal opening of the NHBCs Cambridge Training Hub
Princess Anne at the official royal opening of the NHBCs Cambridge Training Hub

Bellway is one of several housebuilders which is participating in the programme, led by the Home Builders Federation and Women into Construction, to attract more women into trainee assistant site manager roles.

She said: “Without a programme like Women into Home Building, there’s no way on this planet that I would have considered being a site manager. It is not something that I thought was open to me, so Women into Home Building has been lifechanging.”

A year into her apprenticeship, Shelly is relishing life on site and has already set her sights on progressing further in the industry.

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“I enjoy being out and about, walking around site and not being stuck at a desk,” she said. “Every day is a learning day, even for site managers that are qualified and trained. No two days are the same and it is incredibly varied.

“My goal is to become a construction director. That is a long way off, but I think it is achievable. My current construction director, Dean Takkou who has been with Bellway for 25 years, is incredibly enthusiastic and makes you feel like you’re very capable. He is really encouraging.”

Dean Takkou, Construction Director for Bellway Eastern Counties, said: “Shelly has proven that, with a positive mindset, juggling a career with a home life can work in our industry. She has been determined from day one to make her mark and learn all the relevant skills to become a successful site manager in the future.

“Shelly has always shown excellent punctuality and has a great relationship with contractors and customers alike, which has made her a very popular member of the team.

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“We are extremely proud that we have been able to utilise the Women into Home Building scheme for both Shelly and our own benefit.”

Ellie Hall, Bellway Group’s Resourcing and Talent Manager, added: “It has been a great experience to work with Shelly and see her progress since joining the Women into Construction programme. She was the first appointment through the programme, joining us last April and has thrived since the beginning. Following her successful time on the programme, Shelly interviewed fantastically, and we were very happy to offer her a role.

“Since she has joined the team full time, she has also had a great impact on the wider group of apprentices having joined the cohort last September. In January this year, I had the opportunity to meet Shelly on site at Whitehall Gardens in Godmanchester and got to see Shelly in action. It was lovely to see how far Shelly has come and to see her hard work come to fruition.”

Bellway has set out its commitments to sustainable working practices, including being an employer of choice, in its Better with Bellway strategy, which aims to put people and the planet first.

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