Addressing the Gap: A City & Country/Constructing Futures Success

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Addressing the Gap: A City & Country/Constructing Futures Success

In Edinburgh’s city centre, the iconic Donaldson’s is in the midst of a change.

Historically the building has had many purposes, a hospital, a school and even a prison for German and Italian soldiers during World War II! It is now being re-imagined again in, what is soon to be, a spectacular luxury development.

I work in the construction industry and I live in Edinburgh, so I was thrilled to hear about this development.

The local Graduates I work with in our social enterprise, Construction Futures, were equally excited to hear of any possibilities of work experience on such a prestigious development.

In February this year, I was given the name of Michaela Farquhar of City & Country as someone to introduce Constructing Futures to and ask how City & Country could help those in need of vital work experience. This was with the view to increase the chance of these Graduates getting a start in their career in construction.

Michaela and I discussed Constructing Futures at length and what type of candidates would benefit most from a placement with City & Country.

After speaking to and meeting several graduates to understand their career goals and motivations, I had shortlisted three candidates who would fit the profile Michaela had been looking for.  

Two candidates were invited to interview, and I am very pleased to say, that City & Country offered a placement to the successful Graduate. This Graduate completed 12 weeks of placement, at the end of which, City & Country offered them a permanent position. 

I recently sat down with Michaela to talk about our journey and the process involved with Constructing Futures:

When we first spoke about Construction Futures, what were your thoughts?

It was a wonderful opportunity for those who just needed a bit of experience! The skills gap is still causing difficulties in construction and programmes like this can help bridge this.

It’s true Constructing Futures can help people into work, in fact over half candidates who have completed a work experience placement are now in their chosen career in Construction! I could talk all day about how great it is but was there any worries you had when considering engaging with us?

I was a bit worried about how we could support a candidate in placement as we were so busy. Having a part-time placement would be fine but I wanted to make sure we were offering something of real value. Discussing with the relevant people on site we were happy there was a period we could support a candidate for placement. Not only that, our placement became an integral part of the team during their time and we were happy to offer a permanent role at the end of it!

As a business, one of my worries was cost, but you were very happy to point out there was no cost unless we hired our placement and there was no expectation of that.

I remember the call when the candidate let me know he had been offered a role with City & Country (as does the rest of the office after I cheered rather loudly!) It felt like just yesterday, but we did go through a full process before the candidate even stepped on site for their first day of work experience placement, how did you find this process?

It was stress-free. You sent me over the candidates who would be interested, after speaking to you about the candidates and their background, I selected two for an interview.

The fact you have met the candidates and knew them did mean I was confident about meeting the selected candidates for interview.

After that, we made our choice and we got the candidate a start date for their placement.

We also knew the candidate had passed their CSCS test too as you had provided them with the opportunity and covered the cost of this, it was a massive help to allow the site access.

It was good to update on progress throughout the placement too.

Overall, it’s been a wonderful experience for Constructing Futures to work with City & Country and I can’t wait to work with you in the future. Would you recommend our programme to others?

Of course! I think it’s important that we can give back to the industry and this was very easy, we also found a member of staff! I think it’s something other companies should engage in.

If you are a candidate or a company interested in Constructing Futures please visit our website or email me at Gillian.Graham@contractscotland.co.uk

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