A handful of East Lothian students have taken up the opportunity to learn traditional construction skills at a Midlothian-based industrial estate. Said students are new to the course, having only started a week or so ago, and will continue after the summer, but they were kind enough to grant me access into their workshop to get a feel of what they will be learning.
Courses such as construction are offered to East Lothian Council Secondary School students as a way to broaden their horizons and expand their skill set. They allow for students to add experience to their learning, which can be beneficial when it comes to applying for jobs in the future. They also allow for students from different schools to meet and learn together. Other courses available include Higher language courses through open learning, photography, psychology, cookery, and animal care.
When I arrived, the workshop was rather intimidating. Expanding over several warehouses, each room housed various different pieces of large, imposing machinery that, to a novice, looked very scary! Fortunately, I was met by the lovely staff at the estate, who gave me a tour of the place and made me realise that, with the right health and safety knowledge, the equipment was incredibly safe.
It was clear from the very beginning that health and safety was at the forefront of the course. As soon as the students arrived they began with some exercises related to identifying risks within the workplace in the construction industry. It was reassuring to see the emphasis placed on this important subject matter. After the safety session had ended, students split into two different groups. The first team were working on scale. They were tasked with looking at a drawing, and then translating it into smaller and larger versions of the picture, focusing on maintaining said scale. I was incredibly impressed with the work the students had done, having only had a week or so to work on them. It was clear they had a real knack for this work.
I then moved on to the second team. Their work was emphasising construction. The group seemed to be working on small chimney-like structures. They had previously been focusing on cutting pieces of wood down to scale and putting them together, and were now painting and sanding their finished products. Once again I was incredibly impressed with the quality of work that had been done in such a short space of time.
After having a quick discussion with the members of staff there, it was clear that this construction facility was a large production. Not only housing these construction students, the staff also work with primary school pupils in their bike workshops, and work with adults on more advanced construction techniques. It was impressive to see how they were able to adapt activities to suit each age group, without restricting the students from getting hands-on experience with the equipment.
I wish the construction students all the best with the rest of their studies after the summer, and I hope to see their finished pieces at some point also. I’d like to thank everyone at the Construction facility for having me for the morning; it is greatly appreciated.