John Cairns, community benefits advisor, Balfour Beatty

John Cairns, community benefits advisor, Balfour Beatty

As a member of ‘The 5% Club’ Balfour Beatty is dedicated to inspiring, educating and retaining young people to take up earn-as-you-learn positions while making them aware of what a rewarding career in construction looks like. Innovative technologies are changing the way in which we work – many jobs will change and new skills will be required in the future, providing a great opportunity for apprentices to thrive in the industry.

Having worked in youth employment and the community development arena in the North-east Scotland for 11 years, I am part of Balfour Beatty’s community investment team who drive support for Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships in the North-east. We aim to ensure that the generation who will be responsible for delivering Scotland’s future infrastructure projects are suitably qualified.

Balfour Beatty supports a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities as well as a wide range of roles varying from project management to engineering, digital interaction and skilled trades. We work closely with the local Developing the Young Workforce North East team to engage with young people and promote our offerings to schools, colleges and universities.

Balfour Beatty Regional Scotland and Ireland managing director Hector MacAulay has been very visible and vocal in this area. Hector is a member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board and has also recently been appointed as the first HRH Industrial Cadets Ambassador in Scotland by the Engineering Development Trust.

Hector states that ‘Balfour Beatty must continue to work closely with schools, universities, business and enterprises to support their objectives and to assist in the development of our future workforce whilst strengthening the local community. The key is in presenting foundation, modern and graduate apprenticeships as viable routes into a successful career and reinforcing the significance of the infrastructure industry’.

We believe that the construction industry has a responsibility to support the communities in which we operate, as well as giving something back. In Aberdeen we deliver community engagement activities such as volunteering, mentoring and charitable fundraising alongside creating opportunities for people to learn and develop.

In the heart of Aberdeen, Balfour Beatty is currently delivering the flagship Union Terrace Gardens project on behalf of Aberdeen City Council. The £25.7m Aberdeen City Council project is being taken forward as part of the local city centre masterplan and will greatly improve access, amenity and activity within the gardens when completed.

An important offer and commitment later this year is we will be supporting local pupils who are taking part in the North East Scotland College (NESCOL) Foundation Apprentice programme. Foundation Apprenticeships are a work-based learning opportunity for senior-phase secondary school pupils and help young people gain valuable, real-world work experience and access work-based learning while they’re still at school.

Young people we have employed on apprenticeship programmes have proved to be motivated, adaptable, enthusiastic and keen to learn new skills – qualities which every business will be seeking in the post COVID-19 journey which lies ahead.