Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2024: Brother and sister duo share apprenticeship journey

Jonathan and Caitlyn Beaton

AS SCOTTISH Apprenticeship Week 2024 draws to a close, brother and sister duo Johnathan and Caitlyn Beaton are sharing their apprenticeship journeys with leading Glasgow based construction firm, City Building.  

City Building, known for operating one of the UK’s largest apprenticeship programme, recently welcomed 55 new apprentices in late 2023, reinforcing its reputation for attracting and retaining top construction talent through its award-winning scheme. 

The siblings, hailing from the Pollokshaws area of Glasgow, have embarked on two very different career journeys with City Building, with older sister Caitlyn now training as a Building Management Systems Engineer and younger brother Johnathan currently undertaking his first year as a plumbing apprentice. 

Caitlin, 21, joined City Building in 2019 as an apprentice electrician. On her decision to undertake an apprenticeship with City Building, she said: “An apprenticeship was not actually my initial career choice once I left school – I went to university to study primary teaching. I’ve always been a practical person – I want to go out and learn by doing rather than someone lecturing to me. So, the more theory-based learning style at university didn’t gel with me.  

“I had completed a week’s work experience with City Building at school and really enjoyed the hands-on environment. I was a little concerned about being the only girl in my trade, but I was surprised to find that wasn’t the case. It’s much more diverse here than you would think.  

“There is lots of support for young women in the apprenticeship programme, like dedicated training officers you can speak to if anything does make you feel uncomfortable. All apprentices also go through training about equality and diversity as part of their course. I’ve always had a great experience.” 

Following the completion of her apprenticeship, Caitlyn has gone on to further train in Building Management Systems, a division tasked with increasing the sustainability and energy efficiency of buildings.  

This work is part of a wider focus on upskilling the next generation of tradespeople on the green skills needed to thrive in a net-zero future. This includes training incoming apprentices on the installation and maintenance of EV charging points and air-source heat pumps at the firms custom built training college.  

On the importance of green skills, Caitlyn said: “A big part of my training has focused on green skills – in my current role, everything is focused around reducing energy consumption and making sure our sites are as efficient as possible.  

“As an apprentice, I was also part of the carbon working group, learning firsthand how the construction trades are changing to become more sustainable. It is a big focus for us and we are supported by City Building to upskill ourselves and stay on the cutting edge of this movement.” 

Joining Caitlyn in the 2023/24 cohort of apprentices is younger brother, Johnathan, 16. On welcoming her brother into the firm, Caitlyn said: “I think I was more nervous for Johnathan to join City Building than he was – I still see him as a baby in my eyes. But he’s really enjoyed his apprenticeship so far and has settled right in.  

“I think being able to share my experiences first hand with him influenced his decision to join – my only advice to him was to take everything in his stride and have fun. You get to try out different trades and meet so many lovely people during your apprenticeship.” 

Johnathan, currently completing his first year as a City Building plumbing apprentice, reflected on his application process, highlighting: “The application process was really simple – I’d also completed some work experience with City Building while at school after seeing how much my older sister enjoyed her work, so I knew what people around the training college were like.  

“After the initial application, I was tasked with completing some basic maths and literacy tests before sitting down with some of the trainers for an interview. I think this was the part I was most nervous for, but it’s just to get a look at your personality and see how you can chat away with people.” 

Currently preparing to enter his second year with the firm, Johnathan has praised City Buildings invigorating learning environment. He said: “I’ve learned how to problem solve and handle workplace pressure during my apprenticeship – two transferable skills that I will probably use for the rest of my life. I’ve also got a lot of experience working out at maintenance sites – you get to meet people from all walks of life when out to do maintenance repairs – no two days are the same, which suits someone like me perfectly!” 

“The training college is unreal – I can’t think of anywhere else where you get to learn a trade like this. It’s brand new and has everything you need to learn across the board. I would say it’s probably the best place to go if you want to get into the trades.” 

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