And finally… 13-year-old Jake proves truck driving is child’s play
A 13-year-old boy from Fraserburgh has become one of the youngest people in the UK to qualify to drive a trio of massive machines.
Jake Campbell has passed the construction exams required to operate a telescopic forklift, a 30-tonne dumper truck and a quarry-loading shovel.
Having helped out on this family’s farm since he was four years old, the Fraserburgh Academy pupil picked up a Saturday job at local business Colaren Farms and Burnthill Quarry which put him through the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) qualifications.
Proud father Scott was happy to give permission to enable his teenage son to take the test.
Colaren Farms and Burnthill Quarry managing director Colin Smith said there is a job waiting for young Jake at Colaren Homes in the future.
Colin told SCN: “Jake’s father is a local farmer and Jake started off working on his farm at home and then he asked to come and help out with our business in his spare time (e.g. weekends and during school holidays). It is Colaren Farms and Burnthill Quarry that Jake has been helping with, and we’d be delighted if this carries on to him wanting to work with the Colaren Homes side of the business once he’s old enough to work on construction sites in the future.
“Jake is keen and enthusiastic to learn. He clearly has an interest in driving large vehicles and he’s very good at it. He’s a bright young lad and he’s a hard worker. It was the CITB course that he completed.”
Colin added: “We believe the average age of a digger driver in the UK is around 57 years of age. There are no training facilities for young people where they can carry out their practical training for all machinery on a construction site. We can put people through their theory side and carry out their safety awareness but they will have no practical training which can only be gained from experience.
“We teach youngsters to drive cars and HGVs, and we can train them to be plumbers and electricians, but we don’t teach them to drive construction plant. A major problem facing the construction industry in years to come will be there won’t be enough people to drive construction vehicles on building sites. The government told us we were going to build our way out of the pandemic, but how can we do this if we don’t have enough plant and machine operators?
“Since Brexit, it is now even more important that we ‘home grow’ our own construction workers. We can’t just rely on workers from Europe, we need to train up our young people to make sure we have the next generations to work within the construction industry.
“On a construction site, plant and machine operators are just as important as tradesman like bricklayers, joiners, plumbers, and electricians. The government must do something – so hopefully Jake’s story will start a conversation about how we as a country can provide opportunities for young people to get experience driving construction machinery.”