A day in the life of construction apprentice Rachel Kyle

Ayrshire College recently celebrated a major milestone in the building project for the new Kilmarnock Campus, after reaching the one quarter of the way to completion stage. Back in June, student Rachel Kyle became the first apprentice on the site and Student President Angela Alexander caught up with the Trainee Assistant Site Manager for McLaughlin & Harvey about her role in this exciting project.

Angela Alexander (left) and Rachel Kyle (right)

How are you finding your role as Assistant Site Manager?

It’s very busy. I’m learning lots of new things, especially about the technology being used on site, and it’s fascinating to see it for real rather than reading about it in text books.

What is a typical day for you?

I walk round the site to check everything is in order and safe. I then get permits in place for work being carried out that day. Contractors come in to get permits signed. Inductions take place on Mondays and Wednesdays. There is a lot of paperwork relating to health and safety to be completed.

What is involved in induction?

Anyone working onsite, for example new staff and subcontractors, must complete an induction. It covers health and safety regulations, first aid, fire measures, traffic management and site rules.

How has your college course helped you in this role?

My HNC has given me an excellent knowledge basis and is a great foundation to build upon. In my job, I’ve also been on various training courses.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really like seeing the building progress and I love that every day is different. It has been a steep learning curve but really enjoyable. The people that I work with are fantastic, everyone really supports each other. The experience I am gaining is wonderful. No text book in the world could provide this level of knowledge or insight.

What challenges have you faced?

It has been challenging trying to juggle working, studying and family life but I have a lot of support and seem to have found the right balance.

Is it difficult being a woman in a predominantly male trade?

You do have to be thick skinned and try not to take things to heart. I do find that women are becoming much more widely accepted in construction and I have had no major issues.

How would you inspire other women to follow a construction based career?

Young women often write off construction without giving it a chance. It’s a wonderful career which provides opportunities to be involved in fantastic projects. The industry pays really well and there are so many different roles available – it’s not all about building sites. There seems to be a shift within large consortiums with more women taking on key roles. I hope to move to site management then into contracts management.

Do you find that women are better at certain things?

Each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s about figuring out what yours are. You shouldn’t stereotype and say men are better at some things and women others. Within the team we have very diverse personalities and a real mix of skills.

What is happening on site at this stage?

The build is now quarter way through. Steel frames have arrived and foundations and cores broadly in place. We are almost ready to structure anchors to core and foundations, which will give stability. Very soon the STEM block will start to take shape.


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