New Campus Countdown: Focus on Construction

The countdown is on until the official opening of our new campus in Kilmarnock’s Hill Street. Each month we plan to unveil a new curriculum area in the new campus as we hear from employers, lecturers and students about their hopes for the campus and how the sector will evolve. This month, the spotlight is on Construction Technology and Trades.

Graeme Donaldson is the Curriculum Manager for Trades and splits his time between the College’s Kilmarnock and Kilwinning campuses. To help us countdown to the new campus, Graeme spoke to us about the construction curriculum area in the College, what the College expects of its construction students and what he is most looking forward to from the new campus.

The Construction department sits within the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] directorate in the College. In Kilmarnock, our construction courses are delivered in our Townholm satellite campus. The main courses taught in Townholm are Brickwork, Carpentry and Joinery, and Painting and Decorating at a range of levels. The department also delivers a Construction Craft National 4 course to East Ayrshire secondary school pupils.

The construction sector employs over 8% of the UK workforce and is a growing industry with more than 182,000 new jobs promised by 2018. We asked Graeme to describe the main skills that students need to succeed within this industry:

“One of the main skills which students need to succeed is to show a keen interest in the construction sector. Courses contain a large amount of practical work, and students need to be fairly fit and prepared to carry out manual tasks and activities. At the College students will also receive plenty of theory based work to expand their knowledge and understanding of their trade specific course.

Throughout all our courses, we aim to embed a range of transferable skills like timekeeping, attendance, the ability to follow instructions, solve basic problems and learn basic industry skills. There are great chances for students to progress to a higher level of study if they have the right mind set and are committed to enhancing their skills and personal development.

It is also important that students cooperate with curriculum and service staff to achieve the best learning experience possible to set them up for their future career.”

Graeme believes that the courses offered by Ayrshire College are a great starting block for students with ambitions of a future career within the industry:

“In order to help students as best we can, we help them to develop the transferable skills that employers are looking for. We also make sure that there are progression routes in place for students to ensure they get the most out of their time with us.

In the Carpentry and Joinery Level 5 course, we will be sending students on industrial work placements for four weeks. During their month long experience they get the chance to experience a realistic working environment, allowing them to gain a much more detailed insight into the daily structure of their chosen trade. At the moment we are hoping to provide work placements with East Ayrshire Council’s Building and Works department with the hope of expansion for the near future.

If students excel during their placement and the company has an upcoming vacancy, we work together to help the student apply for the position. This is a great opportunity for students to experience what their industry is like and help them put the skills learnt in class into action. It is also great for local businesses, the local community and the economy.”

Looking ahead, the new Kilmarnock Campus in Hill Street will be home to over 100 construction students. With more facilities available to students and staff, Graeme can’t wait until the doors are opened in eleven months’ time.

“As the clock ticks down, I am very much looking forward to construction staff and students being part of the wider College community. The new Kilmarnock Campus will bring construction students together with students from other curriculum areas which I believe will add to our students’ learning experience.”  

In the new campus, construction facilities will include brickwork project space; brickwork workshops; joinery machine shop; two joinery workshops and painting and decorating workshops. The prospect of working in such surroundings is also striking an excited chord with Graeme.

“A big advantage of the new campus will be the bespoke trade workshops and state of the art theory classrooms which can only enhance the student experience during their time with us. We will continue to deliver a range of courses to meet industry standards which allow students the chance to gain sufficient practical skills and consolidate their knowledge.

“With more than a third of people working in the construction industry becoming their own boss, the opportunities open to students don’t just end when they graduate from their chosen course. Some students progress to a higher level, some are interested in construction management and some are eager to be let loose on the outside world.

“There are many different options for students within this sector and the new Kilmarnock campus will enhance these even further. It really is an exciting time for the students of Ayrshire College!”

For all the latest information on our new campus development in Kilmarnock click here:

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