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National Apprenticeship Week 2021: From Apprentice to “Plant Operative of the Year”

We are very proud of the apprentices who have joined our business so far. It is really important that we continue to encourage people to join the construction industry, to help we proactively highlight the experience of Flannery apprentices.
Today we are shining the spotlight on Danielle, a Plant Operator, who joined Flannery team as an apprentice in November 2019, and has already won the “Plant Operative of the Year” award at the 2020 CPA Stars of the Future Awards (held in November last year!)

Danielle joined us having started her working life in a bank as an auditor, looking for a career that was more hands-on and outdoors led her to investigate construction apprenticeships. Starting her career on-site operating an articulated dumper, Danielle moved onto a dozer within three months of being on-site – a record for a Flannery apprentice. To find out more about Danielle’s personal experience at Flannery, we asked her a few questions.

Tell us your story. What attracted you to the construction industry?

Over the years I heard plenty of positive things about working in the construction industry from my family and friends. I like the idea of working with new people and seeing new places. I really enjoy seeing the fruits of my labour, whether that be a new road, a building or even a golf course. My grandfather was also a 360 driver, he taught me a lot about plant and industry driving when I was growing up.

What appealed to you the most when applying for the Flannery apprenticeship?

Previously I heard a lot about women who break barriers in many industries, including construction, and I did my research to find out more about it. I looked at Flannery and read their articles that focused on women in construction and Flannery apprentices, which helped relieve any anxieties I had about being a woman in the construction sector. I realised this company I want to work for where it does not matter if you are male or female. If you are new in the industry, Flannery is always ready to offer the apprenticeship program and further job placements. So, I have not looked back since joining.

How did you find your apprenticeship?

It’s the best thing I ever did. Since I started my apprenticeship, I’ve learnt an astronomical amount. Every day is a school day.  The variety of the job was fantastic, and I loved meeting all the different people who come on-site.

What did you enjoy the most while being Flannery apprentice?

The people. Everyone is incredibly patient here and it helps a lot when it comes to needing to understand everything. I made some great friends along the way and Flannery supported me a lot.

What is your first impression of Operator Skills Hub?

Looks amazing! The simulators can help a lot before going onto a machine. The people are also really approachable. I have been able to ask any questions without feeling silly about any of them. I’ve also been invited back whenever I need them, it’s comforting to have their support.

How will the OSH benefit you?

It is great to know it is here. I think I will use it to learn new skills or practice a new machine if I am considering another category. It is always great to familiarise yourself with a machine you have not operated in a while and learn new innovative software.

What would you say to women who are thinking about joining the construction industry?

Do it. Before I joined the industry, one of the things I found a bit daunting was the perception that it’s such a male-dominated industry that some men wouldn’t like a woman on-site. I had a lot of friends and family trying to deter me, telling me it was a man’s world and that I would be isolated. I was so determined to follow my dreams that I blocked out their opinions and I went for it anyway. But I can honestly say I don’t feel any different to the boys. My foreman is an advocate for women on-site, and everyone has been nothing but supportive. I really don’t want other females to think that there are any barriers to entering the industry. My only regret is not doing it sooner, and I want women to understand what an amazing career it is.

What are your hopes for the future?

At the moment, I am just keen on being a better operator than I was yesterday and improve my operating skills.  I should mention that everyone from day one with my manager, my apprenticeship officer, my trainers at college, the wider management team and the other operators have been keen to discuss my options, so we will see what the future holds.

Thinking about a career in construction? Join free “Careers in Construction” virtual event, where Paul Skitt will share varied job opportunities within Flannery: 11 Feb 2021 11:00 AM-12:00 PM join here

There is lots of information on our training provision and apprentice opportunities here

If you are interested in a career in construction, please email