Enriching the knowledge of Scots roofing students

Gary Moug reports on a product enrichment day at South Lanarkshire College, where students got to learn about the latest solutions in the sector


ROOF products specialist Hambleside Danelaw has been helping the next generation of Scottish roofers to familiarise themselves with the latest innovations to hit the sector.

Paul Lambert, the firm’s field support technician, recently visited several Scottish colleges to conduct product enrichment days with Level 1 and 2 apprentices.

Project Scotland sat in on one of the classes, held at South Lanarkshire College’s East Kilbride campus with a room of first year roof slating and tiling students and a second year new-build tiling group.

Paul said, “It’s about getting knowledge over about the products that are going on the sites. The lads will be taught how to fit the products, but this is about knowing background knowledge about them – why they’re fitting them, what job they’re doing on the roof.

“I try to cover everything, so I’ll start with a house, explaining how you keep heat in, then I’ll explain how the roof works. Then I go onto all the products. I try to make it as interesting as possible.”

Paul makes the days as practical as possible, with the apprentices receiving the opportunity to get their hands on the latest materials and ask as many questions as they like.

He said the relationship between manufacturers and education providers is “massively important”.

“As manufacturers, we’re getting our products in their hands as soon as they’re starting on the roofs,” Paul explained.

“For me personally, it’s also about giving the knowledge out. I’ve had 25 years of working with fibreglass on roofs.

“We’ve got a new product that’s soon to be launched and these lads are the first to see it. They can take that back to their bosses and explain about it.

“You’ve got a lot of traditional roofers in Scotland. They like old ways, but when these lads are learning about these products, they’re going to realise (the industry) is going to change.

“I don’t try to blind them too much with science. It’s very laid back. I try to make it as enjoyable as possible – use videos, models, get stuff in their hands, ask questions, try to include some funny bits as well.”

Products on display in East Kilbride included the new InVerg interlocking dry verge system.

“All these products are new to the market and if some of these lads start going on to the big building sites, they’ll see these products,” Paul added.

“It’s great that they’re working with traditional firms and doing traditional roofing, but they’re going to come across these products when they get onto bigger sites.

“The house designs have changed. New houses are designed more for keeping the heat in but the air will escape into the roof, which is designed to be cold, therefore resulting in more condensation. A lot of these products are designed to get condensation out from the roof. As the house designs are changing, these products are having to change.”

The environmental benefits of some of the newer products were also highlighted, while health and safety is also covered.

John McGinley, curriculum manager (construction) at South Lanarkshire College, has fully embraced the product enrichment days.

The college is one of the most innovative in the country, with data published by the Scottish Funding Council recently describing the education provider as achieving the best overall results in the sector, with attainment rates at a record five-year high and well above national averages in all key categories.

John said, “The roofing industry is moving away from traditional sand and cement used for verges and ridges. Most new houses will have dry fix products to make it watertight. Most of our guys will be aware of these products but for Paul to come in and explain in great detail, is important. Roofing is still one of the most traditional trades. The training hasn’t varied that much. Slating is still the same; tiling is still the same. It’s dry fix products that are starting to change the market slightly. The new products that are coming out onto the market make a roofer’s job easier and are also providing the customer maintenance free options.

“To get people like Paul in here, showing our students the latest products, is invaluable. You wouldn’t let someone touch your boiler without a Gas Safe card. It should be the same for the roofer. If you’re asking someone to go up and protect your house, it would be great to know they were qualified.”