10 reasons why you should study Construction

 1. The job market is strong. This is a fantastic time to join the construction industry as there is currently a shortage of skilled workers. There is expected to be more vacancies over the coming years, too.

2. New houses are in demand. There is also an increased demand for new build homes. The number of new houses built in recent years has risen dramatically and that won’t slow down any time soon.

3. You can earn as you learn. Over 800 apprentices were trained at Ayrshire College in 2014/15, the latest figures available. Why not become one of them and combine your work with studying?

4. You can earn decent money. The salaries on offer in the construction industry are quite lucrative – particularly once you finish an apprentice, and especially if you…

5. Work your way up. The construction industry provides ample opportunity to progress up the career ladder, if you choose to.

6. Be your own boss. Many construction workers have decided instead to set up their own business. If you’re confident enough to take on the challenge and manage your own workload, then the potential rewards are endless.

7. It’s a fulfilling career. Imagine working on the new £53m Ayrshire College campus in Kilmarnock. Or the new Mangum Leisure Centre opening in Irvine. These buildings will be around for decades, perhaps hundreds of years, and you’ll be able to say ‘I helped create that’.

8. It’s a hands-on job. Speak to someone in construction about their job and they’ll often say they just could not work in an office. This industry is perfect with someone who likes to be on the move and get their hands dirty.

9. You won’t get bored. Working in construction involves working indoors, outdoors, with your hands, with tools, on the ground, high up…I think you get the idea: there is so much variety within the construction industry.

10. You’re able to travel. You won’t be confined to just one place in this job. The skills you will pick up allow you to travel absolutely anywhere in the world.

Find out everything you need to know about our Bricklaying courses by watching this short film, featuring our lecturer Billy Hutchison. Ready to apply? Click here to view our Construction courses on offer for 2016/17.

Mission Discovery was out of this world

The space dust has now settled on Ayrshire’s first ever Mission Discovery programme and what an event it was.

200 Ayrshire secondary school pupils and college students came together for the week-long space school, where they worked in teams to create space experiments.

Under the guidance of the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) team that included former NASA astronaut Michael Foale CBE, they challenged themselves to think creatively and work as part of a cohesive team.

Using our social media content from across the week, here’s a round-up of exactly what happened at Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2016.


With our teams in place and mentors briefed, ISSET Director Chris Barber got the show on the road at our Ayr campus!

The Mission Discovery Ayrshire participants were split into 24 teams and their first mission was to come up with team names.

We then had the first sighting of our astronaut! Michael Foale CBE, a recently retired veteran of six Space Shuttle missions and extended missions on both Mir and the International Space Station, spoke to the teams about his journeys into space and the importance of communicating with every member of the team.

Monday 3

Suitably inspired, the teams then got to work on designing a ‘Mission Patch’ to go with their team name. A Mission Patch is a symbol that represents a space team and is an integral part of any space mission.

The Ayrshire College Foundation had tasked primary schools across Ayrshire to design the Mission Patch for Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2016, with Mauchline Primary School’s Kaitlyn Lodge designing the pick of the bunch.

Sarah Murray, NASA’s Assistant Chief of EVA, Robotics & Crew Systems, then gave her first presentation to the group on the importance of teamwork and making sure everyone in the team has their voice heard.

In the afternoon the teams were told they would take part in an experiment called ‘The Mars Lander’. This involved using different objects to safely transport an egg from the top of the Riverside Building of the Ayr campus to the ground. Safely of course meaning that the egg was not to smash.

The groups were given an egg, a balloon, one sheet of A4 paper, a pair of scissor and a ruler to make their Mars lander. They could buy further materials but the winners would be the team who spent the least amount of dollars to land their egg, so they couldn’t be reckless.

After creating their Mars landers, there was only one thing left to do. Throw them off the top of a building.

To finish off the day, the teams were shown actual footage of Michael’s time in space as he talked about what makes a great space experiment.


Day two began with a glimpse into how Michael became an astronaut, featuring tales of living in Russia, meeting President Bill Clinton and how to have fun in space.

After hearing about Michael’s time on board the Russian Mir Space Station when an unmanned supply vessel crashed into it – described this week as the ‘worst collision in the history of space flight’ by the BBC – the groups were tasked with writing a short story about the experience.

Tuesday 3

After a few selfies with their new hero Michael Foale, the teams then heard from Dr Julie Keeble, ISSET’s Chief Scientist, who explained the criteria for experiments at the Space Station.

The teams got to work on formulating their experiment ideas – with the assistance of Michael, Julie and Sarah – before hearing Professor Steve Harridge’s presentation on an astronaut’s muscles in space, via Skype.


Halfway through the week now and the teams were hearing all about the International Space Station, where the winning experiment from this week would be carried out by real astronauts. Michael provided the guided tour as he explained where everything was stored, where the astronauts worked out and even how they slept in space. This was followed by a Q&A, surprisingly featuring plenty of questions about going to the toilet in space…

Wednesday 1

At this stage, most of the teams had proposed two or three ideas each, and this was the day that the teams decided on which of their ideas they would be pitching at the end of the week.

After working on their experiments for a while, the teams took part in the Skittles Challenge.

Wednesday 2

This experiment proved the importance that the sense of smell has on taste. Most people were unable to guess which colour of skittle they had in their mouth when they had their eyes shut and their nose pinched. Within a split second of breathing in through their nose though, everyone knew which flavour they had.

A couple of team members who guessed correctly when at their tables were invited to do it again in front of everyone – unfortunately both participants were incorrect when the pressure was on!

Wednesday 3

To conclude the day, the teams broke up into classrooms for the first time to really get to work on their experiments, before joining back together for a showing of One Direction’s Drag Me Down video. Why? Because it was filmed at the Johnson Space Center!


The final day before the presentations. But before they all went off to their classrooms, Ayrshire College’s Developing the Young Workforce Project Lead, Kirsty Taylor, spoke to the groups about Foundation Apprenticeships.

A Foundation Apprenticeship is for S5 pupils and gives them the opportunity to learn both at college and in the workplace to achieve an industry recognised vocational qualification alongside their other school subjects.

Thursday 1

Michael then delivered his final presentation – Earth from Space!

Thursday 2

The main part of the day was taken up by working on their experiments. They weren’t completely left to their own devices though – they could ask Michael, Julie or Sarah a question if they were stuck.


Finally, we were at presentation day.

Teams were divided into rooms where two judges would hear their initial presentations. Once each team had delivered their idea within the 8 minute time limit, the judges deliberating over which six would make it to the final stage.

Team 2 (with their experiment ‘Nanoparticles’), Team 3 (‘Enzyme reaction experiment’), Team 10 (‘Foam to treat internal bleeding’), Team 14 (‘The speed of slime mould on different materials), Team 19 (‘Flatworm freefall’), and Team 23 (‘Investigating Krill in space’) were announced as the finalists.

The final stage involved delivering their presentations in front of the judges again, but also the 23 other teams at Mission Discovery Ayrshire.

Team 10 got us underway, while Team 14 finished.

And it turned out to be a case of saving the best until last as Team 14, made up of James Abbott, Pip Abramson, Laura Borthwick, Dylan Goldie, Robyn McMahon, Jas McNee, Lynne Mitchell, Ania Myskowska, triumphed!

Friday 3

Their idea will go to the International Space Station within the next year.

In a final treat before the Mission Discovery Ayrshire participants finished for the week, another Skype call was made – this time to Jay Honeycutt, the former Director of the Kennedy Space Centre! Jay had been involved in the Moon landing, so obviously the students were keen to ask him questions about that.

Friday 4

After final presentations were made to the mentors who had helped out across the week and to the primary school pupils who had won the design competitions – that was that! Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2016 was over, with ISSET’s Chris Barber declaring it one of the best programmes they have ever been involved in!

Friday 5


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More students benefit from Community Windpower Ltd partnership

On our website, we recently brought you the news that two of our Wind Turbine Technician students had joined Community Windpower Ltd on a two week work placement in Frodsham.

James Seymour and Billy Shearer were interviewed from the many students who had registered their interest in the opportunity. Almost everyone in the class sent in their CVs for consideration – after the placement was heralded as a huge success last year, the first time we’d worked with Community Windpower.

Andrew Brown, one of two students selected in 2015, said “I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Community Windpower. I have learned a lot and I am very sure this will benefit myself for future employment.”

Now that Andrew has finished his studies, he has indeed found employment within the wind energy industry.

So we’ve decided to catch up with James and Billy to find out how they found the placement this year.

Community Windpower Ltd

Billy (right)

I thought it was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience within the renewables industry, and see what goes on behind the scenes. The course we’re doing at Ayrshire College is a lot more maintenance based so I was interested to see how it works as a business, and what goes on behind the maintenance role.

I’ve always been fascinated by the technology. I went up to Whitelees one day through my last job with Scottish Power and as soon as I saw it for myself, I realised what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with these machines and get into the renewables industry.

It’s a job to be proud of, I feel like I’m making a bit of a difference.

So we went away for two weeks, just outside of Chester. The first week I was with the Planning and Development team, where I was in charge of doing a site assessment report. They gave me a location and took me through the process of finding it on the map, putting all the constraints on top of it – the issues and boundaries that they come across – and then I had to report on it. At the end of the two weeks I had to actually present to the team, with the opportunity for it to be turned into a live project.

The second week was with the Operations and Technical team, dealing with SCADA systems. They monitor the windfarm and the turbines, and on a daily basis download all the data from the turbine: how much energy it’s produced, what faults occurred, any downtime on the turbine. They then need to report on that.

We learn a lot about SCADA systems within the College so it was good to get hands-on experience of working with them.

One of the highlights for me was going to one of their windfarms at Dalry. They took us on site and we got into the base of the turbine. We met with some of the techs and the site manager who gave us plenty of advice too.

The experience was totally invaluable.

James (left)

I decided to apply because I was really looking for as much experience as I could get from this industry. I thought if I could get in with Community Windpower, it’d be a good start.

Billy and I swapped during the two weeks, so the first week I was working with the SCADA systems, communicating with the people working with the turbines.

The whole experience was brilliant. You got to see a site from development all the way up to operations. When a site’s actually in operation you then got to see the working of it on a day-to-day basis.

I’d thought about getting into the industry for ages. I’d worked for Motorola in East Kilbride and then when that was closed down, I gave it a lot of thought, but someone talked me out of it. It’s always been at the back of my mind and finally I got back around to it; I’m really enjoying it.

A big thanks to Community Windpower for taking us down, being really accepting of us and helping us out with everything that we were asking. They gave us a great insight into what the industry is like.

Ben Fielding is a Project Manager with Community Windpower, and he has been instrumental in developing the company’s relationship with the College.

Ben said “The placement scheme has been designed to provide the students with invaluable work experience within the industry.

“Ayrshire College and Community Windpower are committed to further student placements.”

New Campus Countdown: Focus on Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-Up Artistry

We are one month closer to the opening of our new campus in Kilmarnock. As we continue our countdown it’s time to turn the spotlight on another curriculum area.

We caught up with Angela Sheridan Head of Learning and Skills – Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-up Artistry.

Tell us about the Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-Up Artistry Department at Ayrshire College.


Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy runs at Kilmarnock, Kilwinning and Ayr Campuses, Complementary Therapy at Kilmarnock and Kilwinning and Make-up Artistry at Ayr and Kilwinning.

We deliver a range of full-time courses for students. Part-time courses are available for Hairdressing Modern Apprentices. Modern Apprentices can choose to be assessed in the workplace or attend college one day per week. In addition we have a range of short evening courses for those who would prefer to study part-time in the evening.

Our curriculum work closely with the Business Development Team and employers, to devise bespoke courses to meet business needs. The main aim of our curriculum design is to provide meaningful learning which incorporates real live briefs that ensure progression and preparation for industry, whilst developing transferable skills.

Our students are encouraged to take part in activities to develop not only practical skills and confidence, but to open their eyes to the wider environment. This in turn builds on skills for learning, life and work and provides invaluable experiences.

Our students take part in many competitions and have won many awards. These competitions develop confident individuals and recognise excellence in learning.

Most of our courses are recognised by HABIA (Hair and Beauty Industry Authority). These qualifications are recognised internationally and past students have secured employment abroad in places as far as Dubia and Australia. It’s exciting for our students to experience such great opportunities.

Working in a diverse and ever evolving industry, which is continuously launching new products and techniques, is both rewarding and challenging.

What initiatives are your team involved with?

Our area is involved in many vocational and ethical initiatives. We recently launched our “Man in the Mirror” campaign which highlights and addresses gender imbalance and stereotyping in our area. An initial event provided taster treatments and encouraged feedback on experiences and interest, pertaining to the industry and our courses. The campaign was launched on International Men’s day at Ayr Campus and was a huge success.


It is important that we are producing highly skilled and creative individuals who have the ability to promote their skills successfully. We work closely with many professional product houses to develop retailing skills and our commercial environments ensure that our students have many opportunities to develop promotional, practical and time management skills to meet industry requirements.

How important are Modern Apprentices and work-placements to the department?

Modern Apprentices are very important to the department. They help the College support employers across Ayrshire and beyond. It’s good for full-time students to see Modern Apprentices in college at the same time as them – it inspires them to secure employment for themselves.

Work-placement opportunities for full-time students are invaluable and contribute immensely to the development of their skills and knowledge. The partnership is a two-way process with our employers appreciating the benefits of having a willing student to assist with workplace tasks.


What do you think makes the department so successful?

The commitment of staff contributes greatly to the overall success of the department. All of our lecturers have vast industry experience and maintain strong links within industry, which helps students with their learning and work placements.

Our staff also work well with colleagues from other departments such as Student Services, Funding and Inclusive Learning to ensure students are supported.

What skills are you looking for in your students?

We look for good employability skills and welcome individuals who are creative, hard working, self-motivated, self-disciplined, good communicators, team players and enjoy working with people. To be successful students must continually practise to perfect their time-management, practical skills and promotional skills.


The main challenge we face is encouraging young adults at 16/17 years old to think about what sort of career they want to have, and ensure that once they have made this important decision they are able to stick with it for four years during their studies.

We work tirelessly with students so it is very rewarding for lecturers to see students evolve and develop throughout their time at College. They go from being uncertain about what to do, undertake intensive training and at the end of their college journey are industry ready.

What options are open to Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-Up Artistry students once they have finished their courses?

We offer courses at different levels, meaning a progression route is open to all students. Full-time students have an opportunity to progress to the next level and graduating students can progress to employment, self-employment or degree courses.

Apprentices are either work-based or attend college on a day release basis to complete their qualification. The majority of our hairdressing apprentices secure permanent employment after they qualify. Many transferable skills which can allow them to branch off into different career routes.


How important is working with local employers to the department?

Local employers are very important as they support our work experience programme. Each year, approximately 100 full-time students take part in a block of work experience. We also help local employers to recruit by providing college salon spaces for group interviewing and skill testing days. Employers are able observe groups of students who fit their job description and students benefit from the process and the feedback they receive. It has taken years to build and consolidate these partnerships which provide real benefits to students, the College and the employer.

What can students expect from the Hair, Beauty and Complementary Therapies department at the new campus?

Students can expect modern salons reflecting industry standards, with state of the art equipment and professional product ranges. It will offer students a great chance to experience a realistic vision of their future career. In addition our commercial salon will provide our graduating students with the opportunity of an internship in an environment which replicates a high street salon.

What does the future hold for the Hair, Beauty, Complementary Therapies and Make-up Artistry department at Ayrshire College?

We will continue our great work with local employers and as a team use our skills to help propel our students into a range of careers. We will keep up-to-date with industry advancements to ensure our learners are well prepared for our ever evolving industry.
Overall, we will continue to strive to provide a seven star service to students, staff and local employers across Ayrshire and contribute to the wellbeing of our communities.