Project case study - Developing the young workforce

Working with schools was  a key focus of the A9 Dualling: Luncarty to Pass of Birnam project. The project team worked closely with the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) team at Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) to provide bespoke and engaging events focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) as well as events that focus on career opportunities within the engineering and construction sector.

Design, Engineer, Construct! at Perth Academy

When the project commenced, Balfour Beatty, the contractor for the project, was entering its third year as industry sponsor of the ‘Design, Engineer, Construct!’ (DEC) programme at Perth Academy. The course is an accredited learning programme for secondary-school students and has been expertly developed to create and inspire the next generation of Built Environment professionals.

Through a project-based approach, DEC applies pure academic subjects to the latest construction industry practices. This approach provides young people with real-world practical experience and employability skills.

Stewart from Ellendale Environment discussing ecological surveys with DEC! students
Stewart from Ellendale Environment discussing ecological surveys with DEC! students

As part of the Project’s support of the course, Balfour Beatty provided professionals in their field who delivered a lesson specific to their area of expertise.

Working with Stewart Parsons at environmental consultants, Ellendale Environment, the students received a lesson focused on ecology and environmental constraints. Stewart demonstrated examples of bat and bird boxes that were being used as examples of ecological mitigation for the A9 Dualling: Luncarty to Pass of Birnam project.

Roles like Stewart’s within the construction industry are often new to the students and introducing them to the variety of careers in construction is fundamental in inspiring the next generation of construction professionals.

Careers and Apprenticeships Fair 2019

The A9 Dualling: Luncarty to Pass of Birnam project team was asked to support DYW’s annual ‘Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair’ at the Civic Hall, Perth, in March 2019.

The DYW team chose not to host its careers fair within a school environment. Instead, the event was planned at a location within the local community. This meant that students had to make the choice to attend. As a result, students were more engaged with employers and were genuinely interested to learn about available opportunities.

Duncan Gardner, Community Benefits Advisor, and Lewis Murray, Civil Engineering Apprentice, attended the event and spoke to around 200 young people from across the Perth and Kinross region.

They provided information about careers in construction, apprenticeship routes, what qualifications and characteristics employers were looking for and shared their own experiences of working on a construction site.

Lewis also demonstrated the technology being used on his current construction project – a 3D Building Information Model (BIM) of North Bridge in Edinburgh which was being renovated at the time.

Duncan and Lewis at the Developing the Young Workforce Jobs and Careers Fair
Duncan and Lewis at the Developing the Young Workforce Jobs and Careers Fair

Perth Academy: Senior Pupil Leadership Team interview preparations

Ken Brown, CSR Manager, and Duncan Gardner, Community Liaison Officer, from Balfour Beatty’s project team were asked by Liz Edington, DYW Coordinator at Perth Academy, to assist with interview preparation for students at the school applying to be part of the senior pupil leadership team in roles such as House Captain or Head Prefect.

Each of the students attended online interview prep sessions with Ken and Duncan to discuss tips and advice for having a successful interview. Following these sessions, a full ‘mock interview’ was conducted in advance of the pupils taking part in the real interview.

Perth Academy Rector, Johnny Lothian said:

I want to pass on my heartfelt thanks for your support of candidates in preparation of the Perth Academy SPLT interviews. We were delighted with the quality of interviews this week and the amount of preparation in advance of the interview was highlighted."

“We are so grateful to our employer partners for giving so generously with their time and talents in support of our young people. It is much appreciated.”

Inspiring Professional Careers in Construction: Breadalbane Academy

Duncan Gardner visited Breadalbane Academy in January 2019, to deliver Construction Scotland’s ‘Inspiring Professional Careers in Construction’ workshop to the S3 cohort.

The workshop involved a presentation covering the construction industry and the variety of jobs available followed by a hands-on project manager activity where students were asked to fill in a Gantt chart which is a form of bar chart used to illustrate a project’s programme for a fictional construction project to ensure that all works were completed in the correct order in the shortest time possible.

Kelvinside Academy – Site Visit

In 2019, students from Kelvinside Academy visited the site to learn more about construction from the team. The students were split into three groups and visited the on-site quarry, the UKAS accredited materials lab and the viewing platform at the Pitlandie overbridge, constructed as part of the Project.

At each location, a construction expert was on hand to explain the work on the project and answer any questions.

Gary explaining the importance of cube tests to a group of students
Gary explaining the importance of cube tests to a group of students

Biodiversity Workshops  

The team had committed to delivering Biodiversity Workshops with local primary students which, due to restrictions on visitors to schools as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, were unable to go ahead as planned.

Working closely with the schools, the workshops were adaped to create a virtual resource which featured videos from the Community Liaison Officer, Environment and Sustainability Manager and Project Ecologist, to deliver the course material to the pupils as a PowerPoint presentation.

In addition, upcycled planters were donated and delivered to the schools for the students to decorate and plant with wildflower seed mix to encourage pollinators to the school playgrounds.