Work experience programme bears fruit as Dundee apprentices scoop awards

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TWO of the first graduates from CITB Scotland’s prevocational work experience programme have seen their construction skills recognised, after scooping two of the top awards at Dundee and Angus College’s Dundee Campus annual Prize-giving.

Carpentry and joinery apprentice, Ross McDonald (24), won the Glenalmond Timber Prize – Best Craft Apprentice Machine Woodworking, while Dean Simpson (19), also an apprentice joiner, was named Howdens Best Improved 1st Year Apprentice. An annual event, the Prize-giving recognises the excellence and endeavour of Dundee-based students throughout their time at college.

Ross took part in a CITB Scotland work placement at the Dundee branch of specialist building services contractor, McGill, and, following six weeks hard work, was rewarded with a full-time carpentry and joinery apprentice role with the company.

Dean, meanwhile, was given a placement with bespoke joinery manufacturer and interior fit out specialist, Bentleys (Shopfitting) Ltd, before impressing enough to earn himself an apprenticeship with the Balgray-based business.

During their placements, which were some of the first in Scotland, Ross and Dean were given the chance to gain on-site experience and demonstrate their work ethic and commitment to their would-be employers. Ross is now embarking on an Adult two-year apprenticeship, while Dean is on the 4-year apprenticeship, incorporating both on-site and college-based learning.

CITB Scotland’s prevocational programme is being led by work placement coordinator, Kim Scanlin, who has been rolling the scheme out across the country. Working as the link between colleges and employers, Kim sources opportunities for students to go on four or six week placements to see if they are suited to a career in the industry. Although it is not required, many employers have retained students on a permanent or apprentice role after being impressed during the work experience period.

Since the programme’s inception, over 230 students have been placed with Scottish businesses, with nearly 40 placements in Dundee and Angus. Just under 40% of the Dundee and Angus placements have resulted in students securing permanent or apprentice roles.

Commenting on his experience, Ross said, “Looking back, the placement was a great opportunity to get in and see what the industry was all about and I picked up so much in a short time at McGill. This has no doubt helped me during my first year as an apprentice and contributed to me winning this award.”

Dean added, “It’s absolutely brilliant to be recognised by the College and I’m chuffed the hard work has paid off. The work experience placement with Bentleys confirmed that I wanted to get into the industry and I feel it gave me a head start when starting my apprenticeship course.”