A report by the University of Derby has revealed 12.5% of the UK’s house building workforce is female, with the majority in secretarial or administration jobs and less than 1% having a skilled trade role. With the demand for skilled workers on the rise, house builders will need to do more to attract women into what is often considered a male-dominated sector. In recognition of International Women’s Day on 8th March, Emma Foster (32) Spitfire Bespoke Homes’ female Planning Director explains what it is like to have a career in the housebuilding industry.
Joining Spitfire Bespoke Homes in 2014, Emma works from its headquarters in Coleshill, Warwickshire, focusing on premium sites in desirable locations including Cheltenham, Warwick and Leamington Spa. Planning has dominated Emma’s career since she left school. After studying an undergraduate degree at UCE, now the University of Birmingham, in Geography and Environmental Planning, Emma went on to complete a Masters in Property Development.
Emma comments: “I was the first in my family to go to university and my interest in the industry developed from enjoying Geography at school, which led me down the path of planning. Alongside my degree, I also gained some valuable work experience at a planning consultancy in the private sector. Following my work experience, I was offered a job there starting as an Assistant Planner and worked my way up to Senior Planning level.”
Emma continues: “When the opportunity arose in my career to join Spitfire, I jumped at the chance to head up the planning team. I originally joined as Planning Manager, helping the land teams for the Midlands and Southern sites. Since then, we have expanded massively as a company, and I have been able to grow the team here, including recently taking on a graduate.”
Emma comments: “Engaging with local planning authorities, members of the public, key stakeholders and on-site teams is a huge part of my job. A lot of the time, it involves educating a range of people on our brand, company ethos and ultimately, what we always strive to achieve. In the planning team, we look at a range of new and upcoming sites as well as assisting on live sites, which we see all the way through from start to finish. I love being able to witness a project come to life and the nature of Spitfire’s product makes me really proud.”
Emma concludes: “I would definitely recommend a career in the house building industry to younger girls. The construction environment is predominantly male; however, I have definitely noticed more females branching into different roles within the industry. I personally work with Women in Property, a networking group involving women at various stages in their career, including many young female professionals which is excellent to see. Ultimately, communication is key and everyone at Spitfire works together to strive towards the same end goal.”
Spitfire Bespoke Homes currently has a range of beautiful homes available and recent schemes include Highworth in Broadway, The Mill in Chipping Campden, Green Gates in Maidenhead and Jardin in Binfield. For further information about Spitfire and forthcoming developments, visit: www.spitfirepg.co.uk