Housebuilder provides ‘Springboard’ for young workers

Innes Smith, Springfield Properties managing director (left), with Conor Christie
Innes Smith, Springfield Properties managing director (left), with Conor Christie

Developer Springfield Properties has exceeded its training ambitions after announcing that 23% of all staff are now engaged with training or education.

Less than three years ago, the housebuilder pledged to have 10% of its workforce in training. Now with 477 employees, the company is continuing to achieve this as the business has grown by encouraging staff to undertake further development and by recruiting apprentices through its Springboard programme.

The company currently supports 110 employees in further education, training and apprenticeships. This includes 41 construction apprentices, 12 technical apprentices, 39 employees in modern apprenticeships and 18 employees undertaking higher education through training centres that work with Skills Development Scotland.

Now Springfield has pledged to take on 16 more apprentices within the next year. This includes five apprentices from Castlebrae Community High School in Edinburgh to work on a major development in the Wisp, which is close to the school.

Case Study

Connor Christie joined Springfield as an apprentice bricklayer in October 2013 and has won the Kelvin College Apprentice of the Year award each year since then.

He said: “I started the apprenticeship in bricklaying with Springfield nearly four years ago and I’ll qualify in October this year. It’s exciting to see that all my hard work is finally paying off and everything’s coming together.

“Bricklaying always stood out to me as a career because I love being outdoors and it offered the opportunity to do something creative and useful. I found a bricklaying course at North Glasgow College and during my year there the lecturers told me I stood out because I came in on time, worked hard and treated it like a proper job. They told me about the benefits of apprenticeships, so I began applying.

“During the recession, there was a lot of competition for work and I spent the next year sending off applications and doing all sorts of other jobs in the meantime; everything from landscaping to bartending. Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful in getting an apprenticeship at that point and was looking to go abroad and work in bars and ski resorts instead. It was at this point Springfield offered me an apprenticeship. Although I’d made other plans, I talked over my options with my family and I know I made the right choice to join Springfield.

“I’ve always been very motivated and help out the others on the course. I’ve won Apprentice of the Year for the last three years and I put it down to my strong work ethic.

“I have enjoyed the challenges I’ve faced and overcome with the help of the Springfield team during my apprenticeship. It’s been hard work. It’s physically demanding and you must think carefully all the time about how everything will work together. For me, one of the most difficult things was getting used to working on a building site. The first Springfield job I did was the first site I’d ever been on, and it was incredibly unnerving. I got through it with the help of the others in the team.

“One of the key skills I’ve learned has been how to read building drawings. It was very challenging at first because you must know how to take what looks like a few lines on a piece of paper and turn it into a house. It’s also been incredible learning how to build something that not only stands the test of time but also looks nice, and I can genuinely say that all the Springfield properties look fantastic.

“I’d advise anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship in bricklaying that it’s hard work but very worthwhile. I’ve enjoyed seeing myself improving, doing more and better. Next, I aim to spend time gaining more experience and skills before deciding how to progress in my career.

Case Study

In the north of Scotland, Ryan Prosser is another promising young Springfield star. He joined the company as an apprentice bricklayer on the Knockomie Braes, Forres site in January 2014 and will sit his final skills test before the end of the year.

Now in his third year, he has learned his trade at Moray College’s state-of-the-art technology centre. Ryan won the Practical Bricklayer of the Year award two years’ running, in his first and second years at college.

Ryan said: “My dad works for Springfield and he told me that the apprenticeship was available and I wanted to learn a trade, so I applied for it. When I first started, it took a while to get used to working outside on a busy site. It was winter and very cold, but after a couple of months it was fine.

“One of the main things I’ve learned has been how to use the tools properly. The trickiest one was the drill, but with the help of my supervisors, I’ve now mastered it. My supervisors have all been brilliant, answering any questions I had when I’ve been unsure how to do something and helping make sure that I’m learning new things all the time.

“I really enjoy spending my time building. The days go past very quickly and it’s an amazing feeling seeing something you’ve built finished.

“My plan is to stay on at Springfield as it’s a great company to work for. My job could now take me to sites all over Scotland.”

Managing director at Springfield Properties, Innes Smith, said: “We’re committed to supporting our apprentices, helping hard working young people learn the skills they need for a successful career in housebuilding.

“Like any industry you need a regular flow of workers to step up as others retire. By hiring apprentices, we are helping them develop skills, offering them a career, while ensuring skilled tradesmen for the future of house building – it just makes sense.

“Our apprentices all actively contribute and have a positive impact on the organisation. Connor and Ryan have both really impressed us with their work ethic and enthusiasm for learning. I’ve no doubt that they will both become skilled tradesmen, and beyond that they have a promising future with us ahead of them.”

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