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Apprentices start work on multi-million pound University project

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Christopher Kerr (left) and Sean Karte
Christopher Kerr (left) and Sean Karte, working on the multi-million pound accommodation project the University of Stirling.

Two local apprentices have been given a second chance to cement their future careers in the construction industry by starting work on the University of Stirling’s sudent accommodation project.

Christopher Kerr and Sean Karte, both of St Ninians, Stirling, have been taken on by GRAHAM Construction, which won the contract to build and fit out the first phase of a three year multi-million pound development—providing just short of 800 new bed spaces. 

Christopher, 22, was made redundant at the end of his second apprentice year in joinery as a result of the poor economic climate. Christopher put his redundancy money towards his third year at college where he worked towards his advanced craft certificate, but he still needed to find a company to employ him in order to complete his final year.

Through Stirling Council Youth Services, GRAHAM was able to offer Christopher the opportunity to complete his training as an apprentice joiner.

Christopher said: “I was so close to finishing my apprenticeship and it was really disappointing being laid off after two years.

“GRAHAM Construction has put my mind at ease by taking me on.  I’m really enjoying working with them and am looking forward to progressing within the company.”

Fellow joinery apprentice Sean, 21, was struggling to find an employer to allow him to complete his apprenticeship after being laid off by two companies due to a lack of work.

GRAHAM offered Sean an apprenticeship through the Young Working Lives programme and now he has the chance to complete his training this year and become fully qualified.

Sean said: “I found it really hard to find any apprenticeship opportunities and had to work part time in another industry to make ends meet.

“The Young Working Lives programme allowed me to build my CV, search for jobs and work on my interview skills which really helped when it came to applying for the position with GRAHAM.

“I now have the chance to complete my apprenticeship and work on my skills with a reputable company and I couldn’t be happier.”

Both apprentices started on site at the University of Stirling when GRAHAM commenced work to create the new state of the art student facilities.

Karen Plouviez, Director of Estates and Campus Services at the University of Stirling, said: “The contract to develop the University’s new residential accommodation included a community benefit clause which required GRAHAM to find ways of providing opportunities to members of the local community.  

“The employment of apprentices is just one strand of activity and will probably be life changing for the individuals concerned—particularly when the construction industry is struggling and opportunities are hard to come by.”   

The three year redevelopment will see 40 per cent of the University’s campus-based accommodation replaced with 788 contemporary bedrooms in four locations.

GRAHAM has extensive experience in delivering new student accommodation and is already working on a number of other projects at universities across Scotland and the UK.

Gary Holmes, regional director at GRAHAM Construction, said: “It is important for us to recognise the young talent coming into the construction industry and we try to offer people like Christopher and Sean opportunities on our projects across the UK wherever possible.

“They have already proven to be great additions to GRAHAM and have both been keen to learn from our staff and develop their skills.

“In such a tough economic climate it’s great to be able to offer people a second chance to complete their apprenticeships.”

As part of the project a further two apprenticeship opportunities will be created through GRAHAM’s subcontractor supply chain.

GRAHAM Construction has given similar working opportunities to 15 apprentices over the last two years and works with regional schemes to recruit suitable candidates.

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