Great job opportunities in building services

We caught up with Cameron Bell, Acting Head of Learning and Skills: Construction Technology and Trades at Ayrshire College to find out about a new course his team are launching called NPA Building Services. cameronbell

What’s the construction industry like right now – should parents be encouraging their son/daughter to start a career in this area?

Over the last ten years, employment in construction has been steadily increasing. It’s now at a record high. This is a great time to be thinking about getting into this industry. It’s not “just a job” it’s a career. There is a wide variety of job opportunities available in building services, construction technology and in each of the trades.

Some construction companies in Ayrshire have order books filled for the next five years with construction of schools, sports centres, social and private housing. For example, Morrison Construction has just been awarded the contract to build the East Ayrshire Learning Campus bringing together Auchinleck and Cumnock schools. Working in partnership with Morrison Construction we have taken an innovative approach with this project and have organised a classroom on site. This means when our students are learning about a particular aspect of construction they can spend time on the site seeing the theory put into practice.

We are also hoping that the South East Ayr project at Corton goes ahead as planned providing employment opportunities over the next 30 years.

What is your reason for introducing a new Building Services course this year?

Building services engineers are responsible for designing, installing and maintaining the services inside a building that are needed to allow it to function efficiently. These services include; heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, plumbing and electrical.

Take any building whether it’s domestic (houses,) commercial (offices or shops) or industrial (factories and manufacturing) – now think about all the services they may offer – e.g lifts, escalators, sprinkler systems, alarms, environmental systems, electrical, gas, drainage, communications; all these require someone to design, install and maintain them.

There are opportunities for people to go down the design route and become system designers who would work with architects and the design team to integrate all the services into the building. They might be working on designs for new buildings or need to do appraisals of existing building to ensure the services meet the needs of the people that would want to use the building, perhaps for a different purpose from it was originally. For instance, an old factory and warehouse being turned into flats above a restaurant and shops would have the need for both domestic and commercial services all in the one building which originally had old industrial services!

There are also many hands-on practical jobs in electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration. Building Services is an umbrella term that covers all these careers.

You could be working locally for a very small company doing an individual trade to working for a large, national organisation in the field of facilities management who are responsible for maintaining all the services in a building. Your work could involve travel and working shifts so that clients have 24- hour cover. Imagine the challenges big superstores such as Tesco or Asda face if their refrigeration units break down or the money hotels and restaurants would lose if their gas supply failed or their power went down.

Now that you can see the size of the industry and the diversity of the jobs, you begin to understand just how much of a demand there is for talented engineers to work in these areas. There are entry level jobs such as apprenticeships available now, in Scotland, with progression opportunities all over the world. Scotland has a great reputation worldwide for engineering. We wanted to introduce more courses that would allow people to start their engineering/construction career at college as we know there are lots of opportunities for skilled and qualified people all over Scotland.

What opportunities are there once you have achieved this course?

Once you have achieved the Level 5 course you can move into the Level 6 course at Ayrshire College.

After this, you have a choice to move to various HNC courses in Building Services, Electrical Engineering, Construction Management or Mechanical Engineering.

For those who wish to go down the academic route, there are HND and degree courses available. Some of our students choose to go down the apprenticeship route. This requires finding an employer to take on an apprentice. This is a 3 or 4 year commitment so it’s a great way to develop skills and achieve qualifications.

Have a look at our website here for more information on courses available.

What’s so special about Building Services Engineering?

You can find out more about the Building Services sector here.



Are you a graphic design graduate looking for a paid internship?

Ayrshire College has a fantastic opportunity for a graphic design graduate who is looking to start their career and gain relevant experience. In this blog Ayrshire College’s Marketing and PR Manager, Shelagh McLachlan talks about the benefits of an internship, what we are looking for from applicants and some tips for applying for the job.



It’s not about what you know; it’s about who you know

One of the main benefits to internships is experiencing working as part of a team and developing professional relationships within the organisation and making external contacts. If you work hard and make a good impression you will leave with a great reference which will be invaluable when you are looking for your next job.

Stand out from the crowd

By taking part in an internship you can show that you are keen to gain employment in the industry and that you have the right skills, attitude and relevant experience to take on a job in your chosen profession.

In the real world

An internship is an opportunity to apply your academic knowledge to the real world. You will develop employability skills by working on real projects for a real organisation and it will also give you the interpersonal skills that you need to work effectively with others — and confidence in your own abilities.

What’s not to like!

Graphic Designer Internship

We are looking for a graduate with great design skills who can provide examples of previous work. You will be able to think outside of the box and come up with ideas on how our brand could be brought alive in our campuses. You will be able communicate ideas visually and create designs that are visually stunning and professional.

This will be a perfect opportunity for a bright, ambitious individual who displays creative flair, an eye for detail and holds a strong passion for design.

You must have outstanding graphic design skills and be confident using Adobe Creative Suite, including Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat.

Along with these creative skills you should be an excellent communicator, with an engaging personality and be well organised.

Before you apply read this:

In the past year, I have been involved in the recruitment of eight new people to our marketing team. I have read hundreds of applications and what really struck me the most, is how many people are making the same basic mistakes which are letting them down when we score their application! So here are some hints and tips from a marketing employer’s perspective.

Do save all the details of the job to your computer before you apply – once the closing date goes, you won’t be able to access these online and you will need them to prepare for an interview.

Do read the application pack thoroughly and do what you are asked – don’t send us your CV – we ask everyone to complete an application form and if you don’t do that it shows you can’t follow simple instructions!

Don’t just tell us about your career history! Instead, address the specific job description in a structured way – giving us an example to demonstrate your skills and experience. We will be matching your skills and experience with all the essential criteria on the personnel specification and job description.

Do keep it concise. Keep sentences short. Make your points clearly.

Do check your application for spelling, grammar, spacing and typos – ask someone else to read it. Most of the jobs in our team require attention to detail, so if we spot careless mistakes it’s not going to make a good first impression!

Don’t have gaps in your career / education – make sure your timeline is seamless.

Don’t forget to tell us the name of your degree/certificate/diploma – it is important we know the highest qualification you have achieved.

Do add in any relevant short courses you may have completed showing your commitment to learning new skills.

Do make yourself stand out from the other graduates. Everyone else who applies will have similar or better qualifications than you, everyone says they are a team player, a hard worker and reliable – so what makes you unique? – Why should we hire you? Why are you ideal for this job? Why do you deserve this opportunity? Would you hire you based on your application form?

Hopefully you will make our shortlist! Time to prepare! Make a list of all the questions you think you could be asked. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes – if you were hiring an intern what skills and personal qualities would you be looking for? Make sure these are in your answers and you can give examples to demonstrate your skills.

Many of our questions will be competency based questions. In other words you need to give us evidence that you can do this job. For this you need some great examples to illustrate your answer. It might help to remember this acronym – STAR – this will give structure to your answers:

E.G. Can you give us an example of design work you have done that has been really effective in meeting the client’s brief?

Situation – set the scene. (At college we were given a brief to design a poster)

Task – what was the task or problem you had to solve? (To get people to stop dropping litter)

Action – what did you do to help? (I came up with an effective design and slogan – give details – show your work)

Result – what was the result? (I got an “A” pass, my poster won a competition and the client used my work. The feedback was terrific and the litter problem improved.)

If you are the successful candidate, internships will give you knowledge you won’t learn anywhere else. Together with increased confidence, real work experience and a chance to really prove yourself, this really is an opportunity of a lifetime.

Click here to download an application pack.


Why study for a career in additional support needs?

In this blog we interviewed Katie McLellan who is currently studying at Glasgow Caledonian University in her first year of Learning Disability Student Nursing. We wanted to speak to Katie to learn about her pathway in to this career and what it’s like to study for a career in care.katiemclellan

You can watch the video interview of Katie here.

What did you do after leaving school?

When I left school I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I did a last minute application to do primary teaching but I didn’t get in. I decided to go to college and get some qualifications. I applied for a social science course thinking that would get me into primary teaching. However, my plans changed and I decided this wasn’t what I wanted to do. Instead, I enrolled on an additional support needs course at college. I thought this ticked a lot of boxes – it’s working with children but it also specialised in learning disabilities and I thought that would be interesting, and it would open a lot of different doors for me.

Did you enjoy the course?

I loved it! I adored the HNC as I got to go out and work with children in placements in schools for children with support needs. I learned a lot about communication barriers and child protection. It was a really interesting course.

So was it quite a hands on course?

Really hands on which made you enjoy it more. It wasn’t just spending hours in a classroom, you got to go out in placement and you got to put what you’d learned in college into practice.

What did you do after college?

I worked for 2 years with people who had additional support needs, quite complex additional support needs. From here, I decided I could take it one step further and get my nursing qualification. There are community placements and hospital based placements depending on what your choices are. I’ve been out on two community placements so far with the Community Learning Disability teams. I am mentored by a nurse who looks at my caseload, nursing assessments, giving patients medication etc. So it’s quite in depth but I’ve not done a hospital setting yet.

What placements do you do?

Obviously with learning disabilities there isn’t as many ward-based placements as there are community based placements but you do get the opportunity to go into a ward based placement so you have the best of both worlds.

What’s been the best thing about University?

I think it’s having that independence back. Obviously when I was younger I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my education but now that I’m older I’ve discovered what I want to do. I’ve got that drive and passion to go learn and get my qualification which I never thought I’d want to do. So it’s getting that drive back.

What does a typical day look like?

I’m at university just now but with the placement I’m only in one day at university so it’s good. Obviously you’ve got your lectures, a lot of group work and you try to get your essays done. Your days can vary, there’s days when you can be quiet with paper work and other days when you’re going from visit to visit, and you don’t know what’s going to get thrown at you.

Why do you love working with communities?

I picked Learning Disability Nursing because of the one to one experience you get with the patient. It’s a lot more personal as you get to visit the same person and see their journey and help them as much as you can.

What’s been your biggest achievement?

I think it’s being able to stand on my own two feet and get a full time job and show my parents I do know what I want, I do know who I am and I do know where I’m going. It’s getting that confidence from them that they trust me. It’s nice to have that bit of independence, make your own money and show them that I do have a plan.

Have you thought about the future?

Right now because I’ve only done the community based placement that’s in my head. However there is a forensic placement where you get the opportunity to go to prisons into secure wards. I’m still deciding what to do next.

What would you tell potential students who may be interested in studying for the same career as you?

I just think it’s quite rewarding and there are so many different routes to go down you don’t have to do nursing. I know students who have got a lot more information on caring for their family so they can cope at home or students who are full time carers.

It opens a big variety of jobs and experiences, you can take it absolutely anywhere in the world – it’s a good qualification to have.

At Ayrshire College we are launching a new course HNC Additional Support Needs which could lead to a similar pathway to Katie.

Alternatively you could become an additional support needs support worker or assistant within a mainstream school or college, specialised school, within a range of social service care settings or a range of community and/or third sector settings.

Click here to find out more information and to apply for this course.



Why you should study hairdressing and barbering

In this blog we interviewed Kelly Murray who is the stylist in the You Salon which is located in the Kilmarnock Campus. Kelly is also one of our hairdressing lecturers.  We wanted to find out a bit more about her pathway into this career.kellyyousalon

What did you do after school?

I left school at 16 and worked in retail for a year. I went to college at 17 to complete a childcare qualification at Ayrshire College, Ayr Campus. After this I went on to work in a childcare setting and completed work based qualifications up to management level.

How did you get into hairdressing?

In my early to mid 20s I was looking for a career change. I was encouraged by some of my colleagues at the time to consider hairdressing. It was something I was so passionate about and loved doing. I decided to come back to Ayrshire College when I was 25 and I completed my HNC Hairdressing alongside an evening Barbering course.

What was your experience like coming back to study at Ayrshire College?

I thought the courses were brilliant and they opened up a lot of different opportunities for me. I got endless amounts of support from the lecturers and the Student Services team.

Why did you choose to study barbering as well?

When I was training to be a hairdresser, I did all of the barbering qualifications alongside this. I think it makes you attractive to clients if you can do both ladies and gents hair. At the time it wasn’t part of the hairdressing course so I did this in the evenings. The College now offers a full time barbering course here and I’d definitely recommend it.

What do you think of barbering?

I think trends are changing and demand is growing for barbers. Gents are looking for different styles, fades and perms. Just have a look at what is trending on social media and you’ll soon see how there is an increasing popularity with barbering and owning a barbershop. I think men look for that chilled out experience when they are going for a haircut.

A barbering course at Ayrshire College is a worthwhile investment in your skills.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Getting to do what I love every day but also getting to work with the students. I help students get experience in the You Salon, and also help out in their courses as I am on the Bank Register as a lecturer and I absolutely love it.

What’s been your biggest achievement in your career?

I had my own salon for years, which was a massive experience for me. However the biggest achievement has been getting to work for Ayrshire College. It’s always been a goal of mine and to be able to achieve that has been fantastic.

If you were to tell a future student why they should study hairdressing or barbering what would you say?

It gives you endless possibilities. It’s a fantastic pathway to employment and the College will support you throughout.  If you are already a trained hairdresser you should also consider enhancing your qualifications and learning about new trends by attending the HNC Hairdressing evening classes. It’s a great opportunity to upskill and improve your technique.

Courses are open for August 2017 applications:

  • HNC Hairdressing, click here.
  • NC Hairdressing Level 5, click here.
  • Nc Hairdressing Level 6, click here.
  • SVQ Barbering @ SCQF Level 5, click here.

A day in the life of an apprentice … Part five

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

It’s now day five of the series, and Catriona is heading to the College Development Network Marketing awards tonight.

This morning I met with Gordon Hunt, who is the Vice Chair of the Ayrshire College Foundation which funds my apprenticeship. The Ayrshire College Foundation (ACF) exists to support Ayrshire-based projects that provide educational opportunities for all age groups.

Jennifer, who is the College’s Digital Marketing Officer, and myself have been working on a new website for the ACF, you can access at


The purpose of today’s meeting is to interview Gordon for my blog series “Meet the Trustee”. The last trustee I interviewed was Margaret Harper who is the Depute Head of Grange Academy. She told me a bit about her background and why she got involved with the Ayrshire College Foundation and you can read that blog at:

I arrive back at the office in the afternoon and begin working on some of my apprenticeship learning outcomes. This week I’ve been working on a unit called “The Principles of Marketing and Evaluation.” I’ve been gathering evidence to present to my line manager Shelagh, and hopefully this that will be me finished this unit.

Tonight the marketing team is travelling to Edinburgh for the College Development Network Marketing Awards where Ayrshire College is a finalist in the PR & Communications and Digital Marketing categories, as well as being shortlisted twice in the Events category.

In preparation for our night at the awards ceremony, the marketing team has booked in to the College’s training salon for blow-dries and hair-ups. It is great having these amazing facilities on campus and both the training salon and the You. Salon are open to students, staff and the public. You can more information on Facebook @yousalon.


Remember to check back tomorrow to see how we get on at the CDN awards!


Using data to transform how you receive health and care

Ever thought about how data helps or hinders your life?

Ever thought about its impact on your health?

Did you know that your data will transform how you receive health and care, and how it will be delivered in the future?

Brendan Faulds has spent a career using data to improve sales and productivity for large multinational companies and, for the last 13 years, with the NHS in Scotland. 

He is speaking at our Ayrshire Bytes: Data Changes Everything  conference at our Kilmarnock Campus on Tuesday 21 March.

Brendan embarked on a mission to fill a “data deficit” over 11 years ago in the NHS which helped transform procurement in the NHS and across the public sector.

In recent years, Brendan turned his attention to digital healthcare and, for the last two and a half years, helped establish the Digital Health & Care Institute, one of Scotland’s eight Innovation Centres.

Digital healthcare is about technology alongside the data that it either needs or creates. These combine to change the way that health and care services are provided.

Digital health empowers the citizen, putting you at the centre of your care and in control of your data.

Hear more from Brendan at our Data Changes Everything conference which is a Datafest 2017 fringe event. 

Book your place here.