Highland pupils excel in DYW construction programme – with two new apprentices appointed

Brian Phillips (DYWICH school co-ordinator), Yvonne Simpson (Simpson Builders), Taylor Reid (Dingwall Academy), Andrew Laird (Charleston Academy), Kyle Buchanan (Dingwall Academy), Jay Reid (Dingwall Academy), Cosima Kramer-Lomax (Charleston Academy), and Winnie Douglas (SPW Management Solutions)

SENIOR pupils from two Highland secondary schools have gained an in-depth understanding of the construction industry thanks to a new immersive training programme.

Five students from Dingwall and Charleston Academies recently took part in the three-week Journey into Construction course with Simpson Builders, gaining valuable insights into different areas of the construction trades.

As a direct result of the course, two participants have been offered full-time apprenticeships with Simpson Builders – bringing the firm’s total apprentice count up to 12. One will complete an SVQ Level 2 in skilled construction labour, with progression onto a construction plan operative apprenticeship, while the other will work towards a joinery apprenticeship.

Jay Reid, a Dingwall Academy pupil who participated in the course, said: “I really enjoyed the experience of the Journey into Construction course and am happy with the fact I have ended up with an apprenticeship with Simpson Builders. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work alongside.”

The Journey into Construction course was a partnership between Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highland (DYWICH), Simpson Builders and SPW Management. PPE was provided by Highland Construction Training Group.

Brian Phillips, school co-ordinator at DYWICH, said: “We are thrilled at the reception to the Journey into Construction course, and that two of the participants have been offered full-time apprenticeships. It just goes to show that there is a wealth of young talent here in the Highlands that employers can tap into when hiring and futureproofing their businesses.

“During the course, not only did five young people gain experience of a range of construction trades, but they also completed first aid certification and gained their CSCS cards. They gained access to intensive support in employability and workplace skills, including CV preparation, interview skills, and teamwork and  confidence building.

“Programmes like this allow young people the chance to explore different post-school possibilities and learn more about potential routes to employment. We look forward to continuing to work with Simpson Builders and SPW Management Solutions, and welcome interest from any other leading lights in any industry who may be keen to run a similar course in the future.”

Simpson Builders employs around 80 people in the Inverness and Central Highland area, and has a strong commitment to supporting the community. The firm has a track record of taking on apprentices and nurturing young talent, and last year cemented this pledge by signing the Young Person’s Guarantee. The course provided the firm with the opportunity to forge links with the future workforce to support their recruitment and retention in the construction trades.

Gordon Simpson, managing director of Simpson Builders, said: “This was a unique opportunity offered by Simpson Builders to local pupils from Dingwall and Charleston Academies, to experience first-hand what it is like to work for a busy construction company.

“We were delighted and very impressed with the enthusiasm and determination from our five students, all of whom did extremely well. On the first day of the journey all five were very quiet and reserved, but it was incredibly pleasing to see how much they progressed in the three weeks they were with us.

“We take a huge amount of pride in our apprenticeship programme and I am personally delighted that we were able to offer two apprenticeships out of the Journey into Construction 2022. It would have been great to have been able to take all five of the students into our apprenticeship programme, but unfortunately we only had two spaces available this year.”

SPW Management Solutions’ Winnie Douglas added: “SPW Management Solutions has very successfully delivered several of the Journey into Construction programmes working hand in hand with DYW, so when this opportunity to work alongside both them and Simpson Builders arose we naturally jumped at it. This particular session went very well with all five candidates achieving nationally accredited qualifications under our tutorage.”

Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highland is part of a national framework of regional employer-led boards across Scotland. Formed as part of the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy, and hosted by Inverness Chamber of Commerce, the group’s aim is to develop sustainable links between schools, colleges and employers. Working in partnership with employers, DYWICH is shaping the workforce of the future and helping to better prepare young people for the world of work. For more information about DYWICH and how it facilitates collaboration between schools and local businesses, visit www.dywich.co.uk or follow DYWICH on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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