Riverside Scotland and McTaggart Construction help youngsters kick-start careers in construction

Ayrshire teenagers are now planning a future in construction after Riverside Scotland and McTaggart Construction gave them a foot on the ladder.

A series of two-week placements on Riverside’s new housing development in Tarryholme has inspired young people to seek a career in the building industry.

Working for contractor McTaggart Construction on 77 affordable new homes has given the youngsters, all from Irvine, a taste for a life of working with your hands in the open air.

McTaggart has provided much support and guidance to young people on the government’s Kickstart Scheme, which gives employers funding to create jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit.

Connor Wales

Connor Wales, 19, is now months into a job with McTaggart bricklayers on the site, secured after the initial fortnight placement on the site.

He had thought about becoming roofer but the insight the work experience gave him now means he wants to qualify as a bricklayer and maybe move into management in the future.

“I like being hands on with what I’m doing. And I’m learning the trade as I go along. The people are really nice, we have a laugh,” he said.

Connor is enjoying the sense of achievement of building the homes.  “Everyone needs a house”, Connor stated. He said he would encourage anyone thinking of working in construction to do it. “It’s really hard work but worthwhile.”

He explained there was a lot of heavy lifting involved and jokingly advised anyone thinking of going into the building trade to “go to the gym beforehand”. “Build yourself up first otherwise there is no way you can do this without that”.

Ethan Mackendrick, 16, who lives in a Riverside Scotland home, has been studying sports and fitness at college but after his two-week placement is now looking to switch to a future in construction when his college course finishes in June 2023. He said he prefers construction to his current studies because you are “on your feet all day outside”.

Lewis Burns also 19, said he did the placement on Riverside Scotland’s Tarryhome scheme because he wanted to “give construction a try” and now wishes he had “got into construction sooner”.

He worked with scaffolding contractors for the last few days of his work placement where his work ethic impressed leading to an offer of a role as a trainee scaffolder.

Lewis is enjoying the physical challenge of the job – and having the money to buy new trainers.

The development has also allowed Scott Pettingale, 34, another Riverside Scotland resident living in Tarryholme, to come back to a career in plumbing. A career he has enjoyed on and off for 19 years.  He returned working for McTaggart after two-and-a-half years of running a pub. He loves the fact that he is not tied to an office desk and gets to move around and meet people. “It’s a good job,” he said. “I like the customer services side and you get to move about. I couldn’t work at a desk.”

Scott was working for a bathroom company for a while after the pub but prefers to work on the building site. “New builds are better,” he explained. “It’s good seeing a job from start to finish and seeing when it’s all done. They’re beautiful new homes and really well maintained. I like working on new build homes as you can see a job through from start to finish.”

Riverside Scotland started work on phase two of Tarryholme in May 2021 after 87 homes were built in 2019 in the first phase.

The £13million project – which is supported by a £6million grant from the Scottish Government will focus on providing homes for those with specific accessibility needs.

As such, more than 60% of the properties will be designed to suit wheelchair users, armed services veterans and those with additional mobility needs.

Diana MacLean, managing director of Riverside Scotland, said: “Community benefit plays an important role in construction and brings so much more to the community than new affordable homes. We are proud to be working in partnership with McTaggart supporting local young people to overcome barriers and inspiring them to pursue careers in the construction sector. We’re especially thrilled to have Riverside Scotland residents working on site and developing new skills.”

Ross Hammell, Community Benefit Manager at McTaggart Construction, said: “We are really pleased we have been able to continue this excellent work with Riverside Scotland by supporting young people from Irvine and across North Ayrshire with work opportunities to help them kick-start a career in construction.

“Breaking down barriers for young people and opening up the construction industry as a potential career shows how construction sites can have a huge impact on communities beyond the bricks and mortar of building these much-needed new homes.”

The new homes include 12 two-bed cottage flats for veterans, 36 two-bed amenity bungalows, 3 two-bed bungalows for wheelchair users and 2 three-bed bungalows for wheelchair users.

Riverside Scotland has committed to delivering 300 new homes over a three-year period.