CITB: Underwood

Inspiring more girlCITB logos and young people to start a career in construction

Underwood, mum of two, originally wanted to train as a mechanic. Now, the 28-year-old continues to enjoy working on roads, house sites and construction projects as a plant and HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicles) operator at her father’s firm.

Passion for construction

When Underwood first started looking for mechanic roles, she couldn’t land any opportunities. “I went around all the garages in Oban, but no one would take me on. My dad said: ‘You can work with me until you find something you want to do.’ And I never found anything else I wanted to do more.”

In 2012, she embarked on a plant operator apprenticeship with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to obtain her machine licenses. Then, in 2019, she started her ‘The Digger Girl’ social media accounts to share her jobs and machinery with people with similar interests. Now, she is a role model to many young people and has received several awards.

Hyundai Construction Equipment and Rototilt are the latest firm to recruit her as a brand ambassador. She is recognised as one of the UK’s top 100 women in construction by the National Federation of Builders.

Women as builders

Underwood is motivated to continue using her social media platforms to end the stigma of female builders and encourage more girls to join the construction industry.

She admits: “When I was growing up, I had no other females in construction to look up to. There was no one on social media to contact.”

“Two wee girls came up to me to say they’ve seen my videos, and when I asked what they want to be when they’re older, they replied: ‘a digger driver!’ When I was younger, there was never that — I never saw any women driving diggers,” she adds.

Industry skills gap

The CITB has just announced their year-long partnership with Underwood as she promotes the advantages of a construction apprenticeship. She observes a skills gap in the industry, with fewer people interested in a construction career.

“It’s not just women. We are trying to get more young people into the industry. There is a lack of young people in general coming through.”

Although there is still a long way to go, Underwood believes society is headed in the right direction as she finds more girls and young people looking for advice on how to get experience. Her advice to people interested in a career within construction is ‘go for it.’

To find out more about apprenticeships at CITB, visit the CITB website. 

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