Uddingston Grammar pupils build their construction skills

(from left) Stephanie Hyams, Mark Saunders, Mitchell Clarke, Gillian Pettigrew and David MacDonald at the Robertson Collegelands site
(from left) Stephanie Hyams, Mark Saunders, Mitchell Clarke, Gillian Pettigrew and David MacDonald at the Robertson Collegelands site

Pupils at Uddingston Grammar School have been laying the foundations for a career in construction thanks to a new initiative carried out in partnership with Robertson Group.

Eighteen S3 pupils are completing an eight-week masterclass programme which will see them hone both practical and theoretical construction skills through a combination of site visits and e-learning modules.

The youngsters taking part will get their hands dirty at several Robertson construction sites, turning their hand to activities including bricklaying, roofing and the assembly of a small timber kit. They will receive formal training in areas including health and safety and working at heights.

Gemma Gourlay, director of social sustainability at Robertson Group, said: “There’s a major skills shortage in construction and at Robertson we’re determined to do our part to address it. With funding cuts affecting college course availability, we wanted to create a bespoke initiative that truly benefited the pupils at Uddingston Grammar.

“We’ve worked closely with the school to design a programme that immerses pupils and keeps them interested, while giving them the training they need. The value of gaining industry experience at a young age cannot be understated and we hope this programme will help to inspire the next generation of construction leaders.”

Stephanie Hyams, design and technology teacher at Uddingston Grammar, added: “It’s been a brilliant experience for the pupils and we have had nothing but positive feedback.

“To partner with Robertson Group and be able to offer pupils access to working construction sites as well as bespoke learning programmes has been an invaluable opportunity. It’s been wonderful to see their skillsets develop.”

As one of the UK’s largest infrastructure firms, the pupils had the opportunity to tap into the expertise of Robertson Group project managers and site staff at active sites including Collegelands in Glasgow and two projects procured through the Scape National Major Works framework – Coltness Housing Development in North Lanarkshire and Huntershill sport facility in Bishopbriggs.

Scape Group is a public sector owned built environment specialist offering a full suite of national frameworks and innovative design solutions.

Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, said: “With the latest findings suggesting that 370,000 new workers will be needed to keep up with the pace of construction and a skills gap that could grow if European workers are put off working in the UK after the UK exits the EU – encouraging young people into construction is increasingly important.

“The best way for young people to understand the diversity of careers available is through the practical experience that Robertson and Uddingston Grammar School are offering. We are really excited to be a part of such an innovative exercise, and I hope that this is something that we can be a part of again in the future.”

The eight-week Uddingston Grammar masterclass programme started in January. As part of the initiative, the pupils were introduced to the Go Construct website, www.goconstruct.org, where they were introduced to the variety of jobs in the industry. They also attended a workshop on building employability skills.

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