Trainee Gemma, 23, proud of her military links as housebuilder wins industry-first Gold Award

13 September 2019

A 23-year-old trainee assistant site manager at a national housebuilder in North Whiteley says she is proud that her employer has gained a top award for supporting military personnel.

Trainee assistant site manager Bovis Homes Whiteley Meadows North Whiteley
Gemma Owen, trainee assistant site manager at Bovis Homes' Whiteley Meadows location in North Whiteley 
Gemma Owen, whose dad served in the 42 Engineer Regiment and whose grandad was an RAF warrant officer for 26 years, works at Bovis Homes’ Whiteley Meadows location, off Botley Road.

Bovis Homes has just achieved the Ministry of Defence (MOD)'s Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award – the first dedicated housebuilder to receive the accolade - for a raft of initiatives, including providing employment opportunities and helping those connected to the military onto the housing ladder.

Gym enthusiast Gemma said: “I’m so proud that Bovis Homes has achieved the MOD’s Gold Award and to work for a housebuilder that supports the Armed Forces.

“We work hard to celebrate our colleagues who have served in the Forces as well as help ex-military personnel climb on or up the housing ladder. The Armed Forces do so much for us and we want to repay that service.”

Gemma is nearly 12 months into her trainee assistant site manager programme, where she is developing her skills within the build team, and hopes to work her way up to project manager level.

She added that young women should not be afraid to join the housebuilding industry and undertake an apprenticeship.

“You need to be confident out on site because sometimes you need to challenge people, you need to ask questions,” she said.

“Not everything’s black and white in housebuilding and you may need to find alternative answers. You need strong organisational skills, to build a schedule and know what build tasks and projects are coming up.

“At college, I was interested in fine art, which gives you a good eye, particularly for snagging and similar tasks, but there are many other routes, including maths and science.

“It’s not always advertised in schools and colleges that these are skills and talents that can easily be used in the housing industry. Construction covers so many subject areas and if you’re interested in joining the sector, there’s likely to be a job for you.

“There are more women in the housebuilding industry now. I’ve never had any issues with being a woman or being young. It’s an open environment and everyone’s been supportive, it doesn’t matter what your background is or gender.

“We have female role models in the business - an area build manager in this region and another trainee assistant site manager - and that’s great to know. They’re great ambassadors for Bovis Homes, who are paving the way.

“In the housing industry, and with Bovis Homes in particular, there’s so much opportunity for progression and that’s really important to me. My goal is to be a project manager because I still want to be involved on site, while getting to the highest level I can within the business.”

The Gold Award is the highest accolade given to employers who demonstrate forces-friendly credentials through a rigorous application process, adjusting human resources policies to allow flexibility for reservists and supporting individuals transitioning out of the armed forces into a new career.

As part of this award, the employer must proactively demonstrate these and other credentials to their existing workforce, as well as part of their recruitment process.

Meanwhile, the first residents are expected to move onto Bovis Homes’ Whiteley Meadows, later this year.

The location includes the housebuilder’s new collection - two to five-bedroom homes - which are named after British trees and focus on well-proportioned exteriors with a real sense of light and flow on the inside.

They make up part of the flagship 3,500-home Whiteley Meadows scheme, of which Bovis Homes will deliver 1,702. A total of £77 million will be invested to support local infrastructure.