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20 February 2018

College students swap classrooms for construction sites

Students from Edinburgh College have taken their learning out of the classroom thanks to a partnership with Robertson.

Robertson Group welcomed 25 students from a variety of disciplines to eight sites across the city, giving an insight into the inner workings of areas including architecture, building services, surveying and construction management.

Placement sites included Edinburgh University's Darwin Building – a major refurbishment project for which Robertson Central East is primary contractor – and Urban Union's Pennywell project – one of the country's largest housing-led regeneration projects for which Robertson Partnership Homes is contractor.

Second-year HND Construction Management student Lewis McCann (21) spent a week with the team at Edinburgh University's new learning and teaching facility at Roxburgh Place, being shown the ropes of managing a live site.

Lewis said: "The whole experience has helped put my studies into perspective. I really enjoyed the initial induction and walk-around the site as it gave me a feel for the wider project, and being given the chance to participate in meetings added an additional element to my learning, as it was the first opportunity I've had to do so."

HND Building Surveying student Liam White particularly enjoyed the variation offered, commenting: "Spending time in both the main office with the project and site managers as well as out on site was a great way for me to engage in different aspects of the project.

"I chose to apply as Robertson is such large establishment with a reputation for infrastructure and supporting small companies, so I wanted to see how they run huge projects on a day-to-day basis and in the correct and professional manner. They definitely lead by example."

Gemma Gourlay, Director of Social Sustainability for Robertson Group said: "We work on a diverse range of interesting projects, which in turn presents a great opportunity for us to engage with students studying a wide variety of subjects, helping them to shape their careers and learn from our specialists at the top of their fields.

"The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – the students immediately felt part of their teams and commented on the usefulness of seeing how real-life challenges are addressed and how projects are progressed.

"We look forward to welcoming more young people to our sites across Scotland, Northern England and the Midlands this year."

Emma Lyon, built environment lecturer, Edinburgh College Essayist, said: "Thank you to Robertson for offering structured, relevant and worthwhile placements. It is so important that students are able to contextualise their theoretical learning, so having the opportunity to be site-based for a week provides an excellent insight for them.

"This kind of experience helps them understand what will be expected of them as professionals so they're better prepared for the workplace when they finish their studies. Meeting people and making connections in the industry is also incredibly valuable.

"As well as enabling them to learn from top professionals, it also helps them figure out their career ambitions and understand what they need to do to realise them."

A number of the projects visited by the students were procured through Scape Group's National Major Works Framework, now superseded by Major Works Scotland, part of the (Scape) National Construction framework, and delivered by Robertson in partnership with Willmott Dixon.