Laying the Foundations for the Future



Kirsty Edwards’ journey is a great example of the opportunities that a Graduate Apprenticeship can open up. And it also demonstrates the power of perseverance.

Prior to undertaking the Graduate Apprenticeship, Kirsty had built up a broad range of experience in the house building and construction industry working as a technical administrator / PA. Working with a range of leading companies like Persimmon Homes, Barratt Homes and now Cala Homes had given Kirsty exposure to different systems and policies, allowing her to build up her industry knowledge and insight into best practices.

It was a previous director that spotted that Kirsty had the potential to progress and further her career within the industry. After reviewing her options, Kirsty decided that the Construction and Built Environment Graduate Apprenticeship gave her the framework with the flexibility she needed. And obviously one of the key benefits is that she was able to keep earning while studying for a degree.

As Kirsty explains “I knew I wanted to do something different but wasn't entirely sure what it was I was interested in, so this course gives me a wide range of choices to choose from. I considered it and thought why not. It could only benefit me and my daughter by progressing into a more senior role in my career and allowed me to show my daughter than no matter what age you are, you can do anything you put your mind to.”

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Kirsty found the first year tough going. A combination of home issues and being out of education for 20 years meant Kirsty felt the experience was a little daunting. However, Kirsty showed great perseverance and by the time second year came around she settled into the programme. As her self-belief grew her results began to get better and better. A more settled personal life was also a contributory factor in helping Kirsty focus more on her studies.

Dr Graeme Bowles, programme director for the Construction and the Built Environment course reflects on Kirsty’s progress “Since Kirsty joined the programme as a first-year apprentice, I have seen her grow in confidence as her technical and academic skills have developed. The combination of study and work experience really complement each other, and I can see Kirsty and other apprentices rapidly developing as valuable employees in the workplace. Kirsty’s focus and enthusiasm for learning has seen her become one of our top performing apprentices, well on her way to exemplifying Heriot-Watt’s graduate attributes that we seek to instil in all students and apprentices.

Kirsty’s aim now is to progress into a more senior role within CALA; a project management role or even site management role after she completes her degree. And the great thing about completing the Graduate Apprenticeship is that it could open up a number of other different opportunities in the future.

Kirsty’s workplace mentor, Jonathan McCausland, gives his perspective,

“Kirsty has displayed many key characteristics for future success within CALA. She is an enthusiastic member of the team, demonstrated through her inquisitive nature both in the office and on site. She has reached a level where she can now work on her own initiative when presented with an issue, now welcoming the challenge, and recently has been working with me on one of our larger bespoke projects in Glasgow City Centre.

There is a lot of information to process on any given day due to the speed and complexity of the construction. However, due to her engagement in the project, she processes and retains a significant level of information, becoming a valued, and appreciated, member of that project team. When Kirsty is given any task, I can feel assured that she will complete this to a high quality and deliver within the ambitious deadlines. I look forward to seeing her future development within the company and long may this continue.”

Such has been Kirsty’s performance that she has been nominated for the Women in Property award. This is down to Kirsty being the highest-graded female student in her year. Not only that, Kirsty has been nominated for a scholarship with the Scottish Building Federation and received a cash reward for this.

This type of recognition is testament to Kirsty’s application and perseverance and sets a great example for others. As Kirsty sums up her GA experience so far, she acknowledges the hard work required but also the long-term reward “I have found my Graduate Apprenticeship experience to be very challenging at times with the workload, alongside working full-time but it has let me learn so much about the construction industry which I will use going forward to succeed and progress in my career.”


David Aaron