Scottish Apprenticeship Week paves the way for future talent

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EVENTS to inspire pupils to choose a career in construction and show businesses the benefits of apprenticeships have been held throughout Scotland this week as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week (May 21st to 25th).

And today (Thursday, May 24th) a Bridge Building Competition is taking place at Lews Castle College which sees five island schools pit themselves against one another.

Week hosts ConstructionSkills, in partnership with Western Isles Construction Training Group and Lews Castle College, have developed the event to provide an opportunity for teams of Second Year pupils to gain an insight into practical engineering and construction.

The challenge set to pupils of Shawbost, The Nicolson Institute, Sgoil Lionacleit, CastlebayCastlebay and Sgoil nan Loch, is to design and build a wooden bridge to span 1,100mm x 150mm and which will carry the maximum load for the minimum cost.imum cost.

The bridges will be tested to destruction before prizes are awarded for categories ‘Bridge carrying maximum load for minimum cost’, ‘Best Designed Bridge’, and ‘Best Team’.

Graeme Ogilvy, Director at ConstructionSkills in Scotland, commented on Scottish Apprenticeship Week saying: “It offers a fantastic opportunity to showcase the skills and dedication of our trainees.

“There are currently over 5,000 construction apprentices in Scotland and they are the lifeblood of our industry. The skills and enthusiasm they bring into the sector are vital for our future success.”

He continued: “It is also the ideal time to highlight the benefits to businesses of apprentices and the need for employers to invest in apprenticeships now.

“We know that many employers, especially smaller contractors, are finding it difficult to commit to apprenticeships in what is still a tough market, but forecasts suggests that growth will return to the industry in 2013 and employment in Scotland is expected to grown to an annual average rate of 1.1%, almost twice the rate of the UK as a whole.

“We are going to need more trades specialists, plant operatives and construction managers to meet demand and now is the time to plan ahead in order to be ready to take full advantage of the opportunities that will arise.”

This year ConstructionSkills’ National Specialist Team will be launching Specialist Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland through the NSAC Scotland to help employers by developing bespoke qualifications, supporting modern methods of building, and traditional building and helping them to get on site and win major contracts.

And this week also sees the launch of the ‘James Birnie Award’ which aims to find the top construction apprentice in the country.