P&M Sinclair

In this case study we hear from Craig Ramsay of P&M Sinclair. Craig is a graduate apprentice on our BSc (Hons) Construction and the Built Environment programme. We also hear from Emma Lyon and Calum Sinclair who are Craig's workplace mentors.

Craig Ramsay, Graduate Apprentice at P&M Sinclair

Please explain how you found the graduate position and give some background as to what you were doing prior to being offered the graduate apprenticeship position.  

I left school and began an apprenticeship in bricklaying. On completing this, I was offered the opportunity to study further and completed my advanced craft in bricklaying. I worked as a bricklayer for three years, working on a wide variety of projects gaining invaluable experience. My company offered me the opportunity to take on supervisor's responsibilities and I undertook training to equip me for this role.

Two years later, I was offered further development and stepped up to managing small projects, and again received further industry recognised training. I was delighted when I was offered the opportunity to undertake a graduate apprenticeship; completing a work-based qualification fits perfectly with my style of learning and means I can continue to work and gain valuable experience alongside an industry recognised qualification. 

What were the benefits of graduate apprenticeship programme that attracted you the most?

Qualifications have been important to my job role but gaining experience in the construction industry has been by far the most beneficial part of my career. Being on different projects and working with different people has built my now vast experience of construction and where I have learned my skills. I was attracted to the flexibility that the graduate apprenticeship programme offers and the opportunities that it presented to continue to build both my education and my industry experience. 

Please describe what you are employed to do and how you have coped with the challenges of learning new skills whilst studying towards a degree.

As I have progressed to supervisor level, I have come to understand the complexity of construction.  I had no idea how much goes on before the construction works actually start on site and how much detailed planning is required. As I began managing works, I gained an appreciation for how other job roles interact and work together to ensure that projects go from inception to completion.  I enjoy learning new skills and the challenge that this brings.  Having been able to apply the new skills I've learned through studying on the graduate apprentice programme, I've begun to see the wider opportunities that this will open up for me as I think towards my future career development. 

What is your proudest achievement to date in your role and can you explain how this impacted on your working environment and or helped deliver results on behalf of your organisation?

I think my proudest achievement to date is being able to support apprentices to complete their training. I enjoy helping them as they learn and build their skills. Having the opportunity to help apprentices gain qualifications and experience is a very rewarding part of my job. Developing a positive learning and working environment is beneficial to the entire company as we train the next generation of our workforce.

What are your future career hopes and goals on completion of the graduate apprenticeship?

Once I complete the GA programme, I hope to progress into a contracts manager role.  Having had the opportunity to gain industry experience alongside an academic qualification, I also hope to apply for membership of the Chartered Institute of Building. Having gained experience alongside studying, will hopefully speed up this process for me!

Can you outline what support and/or encouragement your employer has given you in your GA journey?

My company are very focused on training and developing their staff, and I'm fortunate to have been identified as someone with potential to undertake the graduate apprentice programme. I have two workplace mentors, both with different construction industry backgrounds, who are very supportive in my studies and help encourage me on my journey.

How would you sum up your GA experience so far?

In construction, work experience is invaluable. Being a graduate apprentice has given me the opportunity to continue to work and gain valuable experience alongside completing an industry recognised qualification. 

Emma Lyon and Calum Sinclair, workplace mentors at P&M Sinclair

Can you provide some background to the company?

P&M Sinclair Ltd is a long-established, reputable building and construction company operating throughout Scotland and across the UK. We employ approximately 70 people across a range of trades and professions. We undertake all aspects of construction including general building works, maintenance and repair works, groundworks, demolitions, structural alterations, renovations and also bespoke, new build projects. We specialise in complex structural building works which often require innovative solutions to realise detailed concepts in design. 

Why did the company decide to go down the graduate apprenticeship route?

We saw the graduate apprenticeship as an opportunity to train our existing staff to degree level, whilst retaining their involvement in our day-to-day work operations. Being a small company, this model works well within our current capacity and provides an excellent opportunity to develop our staff.   

What appealed to you most about Heriot-Watt University as the GA provider?

Heriot-Watt is a world leading university, at the forefront of graduate apprentice provision, and we are fortunate to have Heriot-Watt on our doorstep! The professionalism of the Heriot-Watt graduate apprentice team was evident from the outset, and we have developed a good working relationship with the team.

In what way has the candidate made a contribution to the workplace / business?

Craig is progressing well, despite the challenges that the coronavirus restrictions have had on his university experience. He is showing focus and enthusiasm to his studies and through this is building knowledge and skills to apply in the workplace. 

We feel positive about Craig's future at P&M Sinclair and the opportunities that having a degree from Heriot-Watt will open up for both us and for him.

Based on your experience of the GA programme would you happily employ another graduate apprentice in the future?

The graduate apprenticeship programme has been an important part of staff training and development. Once Craig has completed his programme, we would hope to be in a position to employ another graduate apprentice, as we grow and develop our existing workforce.