Chloe Annis, apprentice assistant site manager with Anwyl Homes Lancashire, pictured with Lea Grange site manager James Mackenzie

AMONGST all the doom and gloom of Covid-19, the pandemic brought a new opportunity and complete career re-think for science graduate Chloe Annis, from St Helens.

She has just been taken on as an apprentice assistant site manager by Anwyl Homes Lancashire and is the housing and property group’s first female recruit in the construction trainee role.

Chloe had graduated last year from the University of Chester with a first class honours degree in biological sciences and was looking to pursue a career in a medical path lab or working with animals.

While looking for permanent work she took a job with a contract cleaning company and, when Covid struck, found herself working at Anwyl Homes’ Lea Grange site in St Helens, helping to make sure the site facilities and homes under construction remained a safe, Covid-free working environment.

“I found myself really enjoying being there, liking the people and started showing an interest in and asking questions about the jobs they did,” says Chloe.

“The more I found out about the processes involved the more interested I became, so when the construction director asked me if I’d be interested in working for Anwyl I jumped at the chance – even though I’d never imagined myself pursuing a career in construction. My family and friends are surprised too, but really pleased for me.”

Chloe’s apprentice role combines on the job training with attending Wigan & Leigh College one day a week to study for a level 3 Apprenticeship in Construction. The academic programme is delivered over two years and modules will cover a wide range of relevant topics including health, safety and welfare, sustainable construction, maths for construction, design, technology, surveying and structural mechanics.

Shaun Sumner is construction director for Anwyl Homes Lancashire, which is based at Buckshaw Village, Chorley, and has housing developments in Lancashire and Merseyside.

He says: “I was immediately struck by Chloe’s enthusiasm, interest and commitment; then I learned that she was cycling 25 minutes to site each day too and realised what a strong work ethic she had. That’s just the sort of person we want for this type of role – previous construction or trade experience isn’t always essential, we’re looking for management potential and the willingness and ability to learn the skills involved.”

Chloe’s apprenticeship will last a total of four years after which she’ll hopefully become an assistant site manager and later take control of her own building site. In the meantime she is shadowing the existing site manager and his assistant, learning about the different roles on site and helping the site team at Lea Grange, where Anwyl is building 82 three and four-bedroom homes.

The Lancashire operation is a relatively new Anwyl business; it was formed in 2017 and began building homes a year later. It’s been growing steadily and now has seven sites at different stages of development from land preparation to final build.

“Chloe is our first Lancashire apprentice as well as being the group’s first female trainee site manager. We are also looking to start recruiting trade apprentices in the new year,” Shaun adds.

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Caption:  Chloe Annis, apprentice assistant site manager with Anwyl Homes Lancashire, pictured with Lea Grange site manager James Mackenzie