Foundation Apprentice Joe McCabe

KR Group is a huge supporter of developing young people in its workforce.

Based in Newburgh, the steel fabrication company currently has 18% of its workforce in “earn as you learn” roles.

They also welcome school students for work placements, and we spoke to one of these students, Joe McCabe.

Joe is a fifth year student at Mearns Academy in Laurencekirk and has recently completed a Foundation Apprenticeship in business studies with a work placement at KR Group.

Here, he talks about the experience.

How did you find out about the work placement?

I've always been quite interested in business and when I found a business work placement on my subject form, I thought it was a rare chance to learn more about it outside of a classroom.

I went into the placement not knowing anything – I thought I would just be sent to a small business to see what they do. I was told I would be working with KR Group, who I hadn’t heard of. I did a wee bit of research to find it is a national business based just north of Aberdeen, so I was pleasantly surprised.

KR Group is a steel and cladding solutions company, which is something I wouldn’t have normally come across, so it was a good learning opportunity.

How was the work placement at KR Group?

I thought the work placement was a great experience. It really let me see how a business is run and all the jobs needed to keep a business functioning. My course was great because it allowed me to try various aspects of work and find out what I like and dislike, which has helped me narrow down what type of job I’d want in the future.

How did you find working with the team?

I struggle with IT and computers, so working only online was quite difficult for me, but Nicola and her team were really helpful. They would show me examples and show me what to do and were understanding if I was late or made a mistake.

“We were delighted to have Joe for his work placement, and it was great to watch him grow in confidence throughout. He proved to be a very reliable and efficient member of the team and we hope this experience has helped him. We wish him every success in whatever he chooses to do next.” Nicola Fraser, director · KR Group

What were some tasks you were given on a typical day?

Usually, the assignments involved reading through notes, emails and documents, then pulling all the data into a readable spreadsheet. It varied week to week, sometimes I would be taking phone calls or researching potential clients.

What would you say to other students considering a work placement at KR Group?

I would recommend it to anyone. The course itself was varied week to week, and it was an opportunity to see what a real job consists of – something you don’t normally get to experience until you’re in one.

What have you taken away from this experience?

I now know it’s okay to ask for help and a team is there to support each other. I also feel a lot more comfortable working online and more confident about starting with a new workplace.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Honestly, I'm still not sure what I'm going to do in the future. I do want to study a business course at university, hopefully in Edinburgh. We’ll have to see how I do in my exams first. Maybe I’ll even have my own business in five years, where I can offer a student a similar opportunity to what I had.