Housebuilder steps up training opportunities in east of Scotland

Stuart Hunter, Belinda Neilson, and Alistair McManus

HOUSEBUILDER Dandara is offering experience and training opportunities in the east of Scotland to help young people pursue careers in construction.

Dandara East Scotland is one of the company’s fastest growing divisions, with five active or upcoming developments around the outskirts of Edinburgh and in The Lothians.

The firm revealed it is keen to promote careers in the industry, especially to school and college leavers. This summer three young people have already had the opportunity to experience what working for a housebuilder is like, and plans are now underway for a permanent training programme.

Stuart Hunter (21) from Peebles is a third-year student at Heriot-Watt University. He was eager to add practical experience to his BSc (Hons) Construction Project Management studies and applied for a 12-week, paid summer construction project management placement with Dandara.

Ten weeks into the placement, which has been spent shadowing John Simpson, assistant site manager at Dandara’s Shawfair development, Stuart is now convinced that a career in construction management is the right path for him. He said, “I have learned so many new skills onsite at Shawfair, and it’s so much better learning on the job than in the classroom. I couldn’t have asked for a more interesting placement – people are one of the biggest factors in running a new homes site, and everyone at Dandara has really gone above and beyond.”

Belinda Neilson (20) recently graduated from Newcastle University with a Geography and Planning degree, and has also joined Dandara for a summer placement before starting a Masters in Spatial Planning and Development. Her placement has helped her learn more about becoming a land and planning professional. She explained, “I’ve only been in the post for a few weeks but I’m already learning so much about the job. The team is so helpful and it’s clear that everyone at Dandara loves what they do – I am really enjoying learning.”

The youngest person to take up a training opportunity is Alistair McManus, who is just 15. He enjoyed two days of work experience shadowing the site teams at two of Dandara’s developments, and has decided to pursue an apprenticeship in plumbing. “I’m so grateful to Dandara for the opportunity,” he said. “It helped me to discover the right route for me.”

Dandara now plans to introduce a more formal trainee scheme to address sector skills shortages. The scheme will offer applicants the chance to train in roles including site management, quantity surveying, planning, civil engineering, land buying and sales.

Dandara East Scotland MD Iain Innes said, “It has been great to welcome enthusiastic young people like Stuart, Belinda and Alistair who have so much potential in their future careers. We want to broaden access routes into the industry still further by launching our training programme that will offer the possibility of qualifications right up to degree level while being paid a wage. It will be a fantastic opportunity to work for a fast-growing business with lots of opportunity for career progression.”