Like many who return to education a little later in life, Amber Gratton-Davey said she remembers feeling a little apprehensive before starting at City College in 2018. Aged 24 at the time, Amber said she expected to be one of the oldest on her course and worried about fitting in; however, much to her surprise, Amber found herself among people of all different ages and from a variety of backgrounds, all of whom have been able to contribute in a different way to her learning experience.
After studying for A Levels at Westlands School in Torquay, Amber started working as a customer care co-ordinator for a construction company, with the dream of one day working as a site manager. After a few years carrying out different roles within the industry, Amber decided to further her career prospects by studying for a Foundation Degree in Construction.
Amber said: “Even though I am not local to Plymouth, I was aware of the College’s reputation and I was impressed with what I read on the website. Being able to study part-time was also important, as it meant I could still work. Fortunately, after I had been accepted onto the course, I was offered sponsorship by Vistry Partnerships, meaning I can complete my studies while working as a trainee site manager – I am very grateful for this incredible opportunity.
“It was a bit strange at first – returning to education after more than seven years – but I have really enjoyed it. Whilst it can be hard work trying to juggle work alongside deadlines, I find it really satisfying when I finish an assignment.”
For Amber, the College has also provided her with the chance to make new friends and acquaintances, people she is likely to work alongside in the future.
“Overall, it has been a very positive experience,” Amber said. “The information I have been provided with at City College Plymouth and the knowledge I have gained alongside my career has been invaluable. I would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to pursue a career in construction, especially if they are sitting on the fence when it comes to obtaining a degree or an HNC/HND. Just go for it: there really is nothing to lose.”
Amber is described as a rising star in the construction industry by her employer, Vistry Partnerships – part of the newly-formed housebuilding company Vistry Group that also includes Linden and Bovis Homes. She said she would be keen to see more women working in housebuilding, and believes schools could do more to set out this career path to female pupils.
In an article for her employer’s website, Amber said: “It goes without saying that we need more women in the industry and I think this needs to start with encouragement from a young age. Had it been taught to me in school, perhaps I would have joined sooner. The construction industry is inclusive of all people regardless of what skills they start with.
“Construction is a huge part of our economy and there will always be a demand for homes and infrastructure, which makes it a great industry to get involved with.”