‘I aim to be an ambassador for young girls'; Sheffield woman, age 22, shares her story of her career in construction

A Sheffield student helping shape a huge £180m redevelopment in a South Yorkshire town centre is urging young girls to consider a career in construction.
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Lydia McGuiness is a trainee site manager with Henry Boot Construction on The Glass Works development in Barnsley.

But after leaving work, she goes home to study for her Sheffield Hallam University degree in construction project management.

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The 22-year-old also organises awards ceremonies and events as the Yorkshire chairman of Generation for Change, which aims to give young professionals in the industry a voice.

Lydia McGuiness, aged 22, is trainee a site manager at Henry Boot Construction.Lydia McGuiness, aged 22, is trainee a site manager at Henry Boot Construction.
Lydia McGuiness, aged 22, is trainee a site manager at Henry Boot Construction.

She said: “I do it all to prove myself.”

Lydia had not always dreamed of a job in construction, but it was wanting a job that allowed her to work outside that led her to consider it.

She said: “If you’d have asked me as a kid if I wanted to work in construction I would have said no, but once I learned more about it, and realised there were fewer women working in construction, I was interested in it.

“I wanted to do something different to all of my friends. It drew me to it.

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“Lots of people said I couldn’t do it. All my friends were asking me why. I just wanted to prove them all wrong.”

Lydia was invited for an interview by Henry Boot after completing an apprenticeship, and is now encouraging other young women to follow in her footsteps ahead of International Women’s Day tomorrow.

She said: “All of my friends at university say they wish they’d done something similar to me. I’ve got a company car, phone and laptop and earn a good salary while studying.”

She said she hopes she can be a role model for other women in what is traditionally a male-dominated career.

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“There wasn’t really anyone to look up to, but I suppose I hope I can be that person by being an ambassador,” she said. “It’s why I go into schools and talk to young girls and tell them that if you want to go and do something that’s not perceived as a ‘women’s’ job, then you can.

“I’ve got a huge amount of support now. I’m looking at houses, I’ve got a good car and a good job. I would say to my 18-year-old self ‘believe in yourself, you’re more confident than you think you are’. I’ve never looked back.”