Single mother, 54, swaps 'glamorous' job selling houses to become apprentice builder
Lynn Johnson, from Ormskirk, Lancashire, quit her job selling houses to sign up as an apprentice site manager with housing company Persimmon Homes.
A single mother swapped a "glamorous" job selling houses to start building them instead, becoming an apprentice in her 50s.
Lynn Johnson, 54, is one of just two female apprentices on her scheme and says "swapping my heels and lipstick for work boots and high vis was the best decision I ever made".
Johnson spent 30 years working as a housing sales advisor but when her son hit his teens, decided it was time for a new challenge.
She is now training for a Level 4 construction site supervisor apprenticeship with the National House Building Council (NHBC) and is one of just two women among more than 340 trainees.
She quit her housing sales job in November 2021 to sign up for the 18-month scheme and will be fully qualified in May 2023.
Johnson, from Ormskirk, West Lancashire, said: "I'd been selling houses from the age of 21 and I wanted a change.
"I was always interested in construction, and when my son grew older, he didn't need me around so much, so I decided to make the switch.
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"I wanted a challenge - and I’ve certainly set myself one."
She is currently working on a construction site in Preston, Lancashire for her employer, housebuilder Persimmon Homes, and one day hopes to set up a construction business with her son, who is 13.
While the job can be physical at times, involving carrying heavy barriers and waste building materials, Johnson said she enjoys a "hard day's work" and the sense of achievement "makes you feel alive".
Although she took a pay cut when she became a trainee, she said once she is qualified she hopes to earn around £20,000 than she would have in sales, and having a job with a regular income rather than relying on commission is "really important for keeping a roof over our heads".
The 54-year-old admits it has been challenging at times working in a male-dominated environment, saying: "I could count the number of women I’ve worked with on one hand".
"People look at me with surprise because it’s not the norm to have a female site manager," she added.
"Not only am I a woman, but I've also switched job at this age to take up a trainee role, so I had a lot to deal with.
"At first, I was worried about not knowing what I was doing and not being taken seriously.
"But I just kept asking questions, and the more knowledge you digest, the more people respect your input.
"I have to lay down the law every now and then if the standard of work isn't up to scratch, but I get on well with all the lads and have a really great team."
She said she is now encouraging her son to become an apprentice in a trade, either as a joiner or as an electrician.
"It would be great to have a mother and son company one day. He's very proud and wants to follow in my footsteps," she said.
"I think more women should work in construction. Not just as site managers, but as electricians, brick layers and plumbers.
"It’s never too late to start an apprenticeship in construction, I’m 55 in April.
"Times are changing. It's becoming more normal to see women working on building sites, and we have so much to contribute."