West Lothian College is investing £500,000 to expand its engineering and construction workshops to meet industry and student demand.
The new workshop area will double the space on the campus to deliver the practical aspects of engineering and construction courses. The expansion project and the new equipment that will be installed will allow the college to deliver an extended range of courses relevant to the construction and engineering sectors.
The project is being part-financed through additional funding from the Scottish Funding Council announced last year to stimulate the local construction sector by college estates developments following the first lockdown.
After a competitive tendering process, the college appointed Livingston-based company Maxi Construction Ltd to carry out the work.
Barry Simpson is Construction Director at Maxi Construction Ltd. He told us about the company’s commitment to invest in young people through jobs and work placements, and about West Lothian College graduate Louis Jones in particular.
Louis Jones is employed with Maxi Construction Ltd as an office administrator. We met in 2017 when the company participated in the Career Ready initiative when Louis was still at school. Since then, we have supported him in his learning journey, providing mentoring and work experience.
Currently, Louis is at Glasgow Caledonian University studying BSc Hons Construction Management after achieving HNC Construction Technology at West Lothian College.
When we first met Louis he was interested in a career as a joiner. We saw potential in him and discussed a career in management with him, but initially he was steadfast due to his interest in the trade. Our contracts manager kitted him out with tools as he gained work experience with us on-site, primarily in the joiner role that interested him. We arranged his placements so that he was able to see different facets of the construction industry to get an understanding of the various roles.
With strong organisational skills he showed an interest in the administration side of the business which led to his current placement where he has an opportunity to see various types of contract documentation and construction procedures. This lets him understand real life applications to compare against what he is learning in the classroom.
We met Graham Clark at the college in July 2019 to explore options as by then Louis had shown an interest in management but wanted to keep his options open. We learned that the HNC Construction Technology course was flexible and could be fine-tuned to suit his needs, and the enrolment was concluded. Louis was not confident in his academic ability at that stage but, with support and guidance from West Lothian College staff, he achieved a Grade A in his final unit which secured him a place at Glasgow Caledonian University.
At Maxi Construction Ltd we aim to provide support for school and college students where possible. We have participated in events including Career Ready, Developing the Young Workforce, and Action for Children. We have construction ambassadors who participate in STEM events around Central Scotland.
As well as offering site visits and Friday afternoon review sessions on the current project for West Lothian College students, pending lifting of the current restrictions, we are in discussion about opportunities for students participating in the college’s Project Search course. These discussions are being driven by West Lothian College Lifetime Ambassador, John McGhee. We have discussed short term work experience, presentations on interview preparation, and supporting interview experience for these young people.
My time at Maxi Construction started back in 2017 when I was chosen for the Career Ready school internship programme over the summer of 2018 before I started my last year at school. Maxi employed me when I left school in 2019 and supported me in my studies in 2019-20 at West Lothian College while I studied my HNC Construction Technology.
As soon as I walked through the doors on the first day of my internship in 2018, Maxi has felt like one big family to me. I am very grateful Maxi Construction supported me throughout my learning, having the on-site experiences and working in the office with directors, quantity surveyors, estimators, buyers and construction administrators. Having that support while studying for my HNC at West Lothian College earned me a Grade A in my final Graded Unit.
This helped me to get a place at Glasgow Caledonian University where I am currently studying for a BSc Hons Degree in Construction Management, again with Maxi Construction’s support.
I can’t thank everyone at West Lothian College enough for their support over the years. I also attended the college in 2017 and 2018, studying two schools programme courses – Level 4 Introduction to Carpentry and Joinery, and Level 5 Introduction to Construction Crafts.
I look forward to seeing the completion of the new mezzanine floor extension in the existing Skills Centre at West Lothian College.