Life as an Apprentice with Edinburgh Builder Mackenzie Hughes
Life as an apprentice with Edinburgh Builder Mackenzie Hughes means every day is a learning day, according to nineteen-year old Jack Beecroft. Following in the footsteps of his father Billy, an experienced, time-served joiner with the same firm, Jack joined Mackenzie Hughes over two years ago. “I attended Bo’ness Academy, but quickly realised that the academic path wasn’t for me,” said Jack. In a time when record numbers of young people attend university, it’s refreshing to meet a young man driven to follow a trade instead. After all, someone needs to build our universities in the first place, or have the necessary skills to ensure that existing ones are continually upgraded to meet the demands of the modern academic world.
Edinburgh builder, Mackenzie Hughes is just one of many Scottish businesses to appreciate the value of investing in apprenticeships which contribute to the lifeblood of the Scottish economy. According to the Scottish Government website, as of March 2017, there were 363,235 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in Scotland, providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs. SMEs accounted for 99.4% of all private sector enterprises, 55.0% of private sector employment and 40.1% of private sector turnover. With so much at stake, Rory Forteath, Mackenzie Hughes Managing Director appreciates how important it is to provide a viable alternative for young people who don’t see themselves applying for university. “There’s just so much emphasis on school leavers going to university, but it’s clearly not for everyone,” said Rory. “Our education system needs to place as much value on those who aren’t academically inclined and help them explore their potential in other fields including the building and construction industry. Scotland has a rich heritage in building and construction; taking Edinburgh’s 300-year old ‘New Town’ as a prime example, we need to ensure that we pass on our traditional skills, so we can preserve these fine buildings, while at the same time enhancing them through modern technology.”
So, what is life like for a young apprentice joiner? Is it all about making tea, or is a modern apprentice a valuable member of the team? Jack explains. “My apprenticeship means I attend college one day a week and on-job for the other four. I’m really involved in Mackenzie Hughes’s projects and every day is a learning day as I’m given tasks that challenge me and help me to develop my skills as a joiner.” Jack takes a pride in maintaining the highest standards of workmanship set by his employer and when asked about his favourite project to date, he mentions the Mackenzie Hughes restoration project on the Gate Lodge at Balerno, to the west of Edinburgh. “It was great for me to be able to play my part, which was working on the kit panels and windows. The finished property which is a traditional stone-built home with a modern extension looks amazing!”
Jack also takes part in practical joinery competitions run by the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board), with the next one scheduled for Shetland in late 2018. And, where does he see himself once he finishes his apprenticeship? He said, “I love my job with Mackenzie Hughes and would like to take things to the next level and focus on construction management in the future.” It would seem that our Edinburgh building heritage is in good hands.