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From NCC apprentice to social media superstar

At the age of seventeen, Amy Underwood made a bold decision.

While her friends were readying for university, she joined the family business, taking her first step into construction. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Now better known as the ‘Digger Girl’, Amy is a veritable social media star.

Showcasing her day-to-day life as a plant operator to help inspire the next generation, she has become one of the best-known construction influencers, amassing over 450,000 followers across Instagram and TikTok.

Ten years on from completing her apprenticeship at CITB’s National Construction College (NCC), she has joined forces with CITB to become an official role model for young people across the country.

As part of the year-long partnership with CITB, Amy will promote the value of an apprenticeship, encouraging others to follow her path.

New beginnings

Amy originally wanted to become a mechanic.

“I went to a number of garages after school one day and got turned down from them all,” she says. “Then my dad said I could start working with him until I found something.”

There she discovered her passion for plant operations.

Wanting to build a career in construction, her dad encouraged her to take an apprenticeship.

She completed her plant operative apprenticeship at the NCC in 2013, scooping the coveted Plant Operative Apprentice of the Year award in the process.

“I was scared going down at first as Bircham was a long way from home. It was a big step.

“There weren’t many other girls training at the time either, but everyone at the NCC was fantastic and so supportive. I felt like I belonged there.

“The trainers at NCC had a huge impact on me and are a large reason for where I am today. Especially Ian, my apprenticeship officer, who always looked after me.”

Amy’s training lasted 12 weeks, in two blocks of six either side of Christmas. There she got the chance to experience hands-on training on the machines, honing the skills she learned from her dad.

Back to where it began

Amy recently revisited the NCC, recording some material for social media and catching up with her old instructors.

“I’m really excited about the partnership with CITB, to go back to where it all began. The NCC especially has a special place in my heart.

“There’s plant simulators there now which I think is great. You can get a feel for the machines before actually stepping on one. It makes a huge difference.

“I have so many good memories of my time at the NCC. But the best thing about the place was the people, you become a little community.”

Between juggling a full-time job and managing a huge online presence, Amy’s driven by encouraging others to take an apprenticeship, many of which are available at the NCC.

“When I was at school, apprenticeships could sometimes be looked down on. University was the option that was pushed.

“But I think learning hands-on is the best thing to do, and I’m so glad I did it. One of the best things about an apprenticeship is the first-hand experience it gives you.

“And you get paid for doing it. It just makes sense! But I think perceptions are changing now, and more people are considering apprenticeships.”

Reaching out

One of the most effective ways of reaching young people and changing perceptions is through social media.

Working with CITB, Amy will produce new content for Go Construct, sharing her experiences of her career path.

“Social media is massive. You can reach a wide audience, and when people see working in construction first-hand, that it’s a good job and you meet lots of people, it helps attract the younger people to the industry.

“One of my main aims is to inspire people to join construction, to get the younger generation involved and show them it’s a good career to follow and they can do it!

“I get messages every day on social. I get a lot of girls ask me about how I got started and I give them advice.

“I like to follow their journey into construction and build a friendship with them. They’ll tell me when they pass their tests, and it’s so nice to hear them doing well.”

Looking ahead

Moving forward, the future is bright for Amy. Her audience continues to grow and more people are exposed to the many opportunities available in construction.

She was recently awarded the Most Influential Contractor, earning a spot on the National Federation of Builders first-ever Top 100 Influential Women in Construction.

“There’s been big, positive steps in the last 10 years within construction. I’m really excited to work with CITB and showcase this to the younger ones.

“And if anyone’s thinking about doing an apprenticeship, I say absolutely go for it!”