Glasgow school launches business backed construction course

Lauren McCormick (17 yrs, Govan), Andy Masterson (Deputy Head Teacher), Mohammed Jamal (15 yrs, Govan) and George Morris (Chairman, Morris & Spottiswood).

A Glasgow high school is formally launching one of the first private sector backed construction industry Pre-Apprenticeship programmes in Scotland at a special reception later this month.

The Pre-Apprenticeship course will be unveiled at Govan High School in its newly built construction unit on April 30 at 1.30pm.  Andy Masterston, Govan High School Depute Head Teacher said local businesses, as well as pupils and parents, are invited to the event to find out more about the ground breaking project. It is sponsored by local construction firm Morris & Spottiswood, which recently announced an increase in turnover to £74.4m.

Mr Masterston said the school is offering the year long course to fourth, fifth and sixth year pupils. So far 17 of the 20 places available have already been reserved for the course’s inaugural academic year starting in August 2015.

Mr Masterson said the in-house course will allow pupils to experience property and construction environments, and develop essential life skills whilst gaining an SQA accreditation at National 4 or 5 level.  Youngsters will have the opportunity to learn a selection of trades such as painting and decorating, joinery and plumbing.

To support the programme, Morris & Spottiswood has converted a classroom into a construction unit that has been designed as a mock-up house. The facility allows students to complete and refurbish the space, and understand how to maintain, enhance, and operate safely within a working trade environment.

Mr Masterson said, “The goal of this programme is to better prepare young people for the world of work, to develop the skills needed to be successful and to harness the message, contained within the Wood Commission Report, to work with businesses to develop real life employability experiences. As a course, it offers students invaluable practical knowledge, and a platform for career progression.

“The success of this project is attributed to the excellent partnership between ourselves and Morris & Spottiswood working together. The initiative is the result of a group of teachers and businesses connected with Govan High School, who felt they had a duty to ensure students have the qualifications, skills and confidence to build a positive and sustained career when they leave school.”

George Morris, chairman of Morris & Spottiswood, said the company is proud to support such an innovative and ground breaking initiative, which could act as trailblazer for other similar courses across Scotland. He said, “There is a critical shortage of experienced tradesmen and managers in the building industry and that can be attributed to many causes. We hope this project will demonstrate that this skills shortage will only be addressed by all stakeholders getting involved and working together. That is what makes this so exciting. With effort, will, vision and passion on all sides, we can make a difference.”

Mr Masterston said the project has immediately caught the attention of the students, who are approaching staff about the initiative proactively. He said this reflected an increasing trend among students of being more career minded.

The unique course is available to students at a pivotal time within their school career, and is part of the school’s wider focus on delivering flexible pathways to best meet the needs of the young people, and helping them realise and nurture their potential.

Morris & Spottiswood volunteers have also staged apprenticeship interviews with its HR team, as well as Health & Safety ‘Toolbox Talks’ from the Director of Compliance. Morris & Spottiswood’s IT department will also be setting up a workshop for students to show wider career opportunities within the sector.