One to watch: Rylie Sweeney, Willmott Dixon

The apprentice build manager at Willmott Dixon outlines her ambition to champion women in construction and change education for the better.

What made you choose to take a construction apprenticeship?

After participating in 13 work experiences at a technical college, I found that I really enjoyed construction. I had work experience with Willmott Dixon in October 2021, and the employees spoke about routes into construction, apprenticeships and their management trainee programme in particular.

I could see myself working at Willmott Dixon, and in February 2022 I became part of their apprentice cohort for 2022.

You are not yet 18 and already chair of two youth advisory groups. Tell us more about what that involves and why you wanted to do it?

Rylie Sweeney Willmott Dixon
Rylie Sweeney, Willmott Dixon: ‘I was told I could not achieve anything.’

It follows my own struggle in mainstream education. I was told I could not achieve anything, destined for failure – and failed to be engaged.

When I moved to UTC South Durham technical college, I had a completely different experience. I learned more hands-on, gained lots of industry experience, and everything I did was geared toward preparing me for the future. This gave me a new positive spark for achieving my goals and spurred me on to drive change in education and help others realise their potential.

As a member of the advisory boards, I have enjoyed great opportunities: speaking in parliament, participating on panels and giving guest talks to share my experience via webinars, round tables – even on radio.

My goal is to help shape the future of education for students by working with passionate young people and companies, so they can have a better education experience than I did.

As a result of my close collaboration with companies like the Careers & Enterprise Company, Edge Foundation and many more, I can ensure the youth are at the forefront of all decisions being made.

What are your career ambitions?

What’s next for me? I aim to continue in the construction industry, grow, learn and gain experience in construction management while inspiring young women to enter the industry. My goal is also to continue champion and drive change for better education across the UK to help youth succeed and become future-ready to take the best next steps for them.

What do you do in your spare time?

I’m enjoying working with youth. I’m a committee member for NAWIC North East & Tees Valley to inspire tomorrow’s leaders into construction. Additionally, I post frequently on social media about apprenticeships and construction to provide youth with everything I wish I had when transitioning to the world of work. Aside from work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, but shopping is also a treat I can’t resist.

Follow Rylie Sweeney on Instagram at the_lifeofrylie. 

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