Construction forum looks to extend schools initiative

07/02/2024

THE WEST Lothian Construction Forum is looking to expand its Build Your Future initiative across the region’s high schools as it bids to address the industry’s skills shortage.

Around 50 second and third-year pupils from Armadale Academy took part as trades came together last week to deliver the first skills class of its type in the area, with the event receiving a big thumbs-up from all involved.

The aim of the programme is to introduce youngsters to potential careers in the sector, with the pilot seeing traditional skills covering sash and case windows, roofing, monoblocking and stonemasonry all on display.

David N McIntyre of McIntyre Masonry said: “Only two pupils from 48 knew what a stonemason was. One was my nephew and the other’s father is a stonemason. After the event 48 now know what a stonemason is and a large percentage have now had a good experience.”

Newtown Renovations boss Jonathon Morrice added: “It was great seeing so many young kids take an interest in construction – and take It seriously. It was also great to see so many females participating as well and show a real interest in how things worked.”

Land Technology showed the youngsters how to lay monobloc properly and Jim Eadie said: “It was a great day. It was really encouraging to have so many young people come along and take the opportunity to see what the world of construction has to offer them.” Boss Colin Smith added: “Supporting these events is vital to the future of the industry. We urge more businesses to follow suit and help develop the pipeline of skills and take responsibility for tackling the shortage.”

Jamie Taylor, who runs Bathgate-based Taylor Roofs, is chairman of the Forum and is urging other businesses to support the initiative, saying: “It was a pleasure to be able to host the Build Your Future pilot at Armadale Academy and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the business owners who gave up their time to take part.

“We have now proven concept and the Forum has shown it is more than capable of running such an event. Ideally, we would like to make this programme accessible to all high schools in West Lothian to give as many young people as possible exposure to many different types of trades.

“For that to happen we need more trades involved and the Forum’s focus in the coming months is going to be building up our membership so we have a larger pool of local businesses we can support and hopefully get involved in future events. 

“That will give us a strong foundation to consider expanding the Build Your Future initiative as well as exploring other exciting plans to benefit both the local community and the construction industry in our area.” 

John McAlpine, Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) co-ordinator, hopes other schools will be able to benefit from the Forum’s forward thinking.

“We were delighted to be the first school in West Lothian to take part in the Build Your Future programme. We are very grateful to all the trades who participated and gave of their time to put across some of their expertise to the young people,” he said.

“I would highly recommend this initiative to other schools in our area as it’s a real chance for young people to get first-hand experience of different trades. Typically, if a young person is interested in a career in construction, it’s as a joiner but this event has shown others what might be possible or better suited to them.”

Welcoming the initiative, John McKinney, Scottish Traditional Building Forum co-ordinator, said: “We were delighted to work with the West Lothian Construction Forum to deliver the first Build Your Future skills in the area. Build Your Future looks to promote the many and varied careers in construction so young people can make informed decisions about their future careers.”

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