Construction students from West College Scotland’s Paisley Campus took part in an event to promote traditional construction at the Paisley Abbey this Monday and Tuesday.

During the event, the students demonstrated traditional construction skills to an attendance of Renfrewshire school pupils and the local community. Kids were able to have a try during hands-on taster sessions.

Tommy Campbell, Head of Sector – Construction at West College Scotland, said: “Traditional construction skills are crucial to maintain our architectural heritage and I am thrilled that our staff and students are taking an active part in this. This event is a fantastic opportunity for our students to showcase their skills and for school pupils to get inspired by construction trades – a great career path!”

West College Scotland Students were delighted to have the opportunity to share their passion for traditional construction works.

Alistair Wood, 22 from Glasgow, Roofing Apprentice with Archibald McCorquodale & Son Ltd, said: “It’s great to be able to demonstrate our skills, it helps us build our confidence level. I really enjoyed showing the kids how you can work slate and get a nice finish. That’s why I love my trade: it gives you a sense of accomplishment”.

Nicola Martin, 29 from Greenock, Painting & Decorating Apprentice with Kevin Houston Painter & Decorator in Johnstone, said: “The school pupils got really interested when we started the demonstration. It’s great to see girls and boys enthused about our trade. I was thrilled to show them what we can do in painting and decorating.”

West College Scotland and partner organisations were also very pleased to welcome Maurice Golden MSP and Ken Macintosh MSP at the event. Both of them were excited to take part in the hands-on skills sessions as well. Ken Macintosh MSP said: “This was a terrific exhibition of traditional construction skills and I want to say a big thank you to all the instructors and apprentices for taking the time to share with us their expertise and experience. It was fascinating to see such craftsmanship first hand and even more revealing to see how much satisfaction and pride everyone took in their work. Speaking to both the old hands and the new recruits, it is clear that learning these traditional skills is a route to secure employment. Scotland is full of old and historic buildings, some on a grand scale some simply roofs over our head, but all of which need to be maintained. I think those of us fortunate enough to have visited this display, including the pupils from local schools who have yet to choose their own career or vocational path, will have been incredibly impressed by what we saw.”

Maurice Golden MSP (top) and Ken Macintosh MSP (bottom) took part in the hands-on traditional construction skills sessions under the supervision of West college Scotland students and staff

The school pupils also took part in a guided tour of the Paisley Abbey during which they learned about the architecture and history of Paisley’s notable buildings.

Raymond Kane, Development Officer – Skills for Learning, Life and Work at the Renfrewshire Council, coordinated the participation of schools in the event and was very pleased with the outcome. He said: “Secondary schools in the Paisley area were delighted to participate in the traditional construction skills event.  It was great to see so many male and female S2 pupils enjoying themselves and developing new skills.  Hopefully this event will help these young people to make informed subject/pathway choices at this important time in their lives.”

Planned and coordinated by West College Scotland and the Renfrewshire Council – Regeneration & Economic Development Service, the event involved different organisations, including the Scottish Traditional Buildings Forum, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Developing the Young Workforce – West Region (DYW West), the Heritage Lottery Fund, Glasgow City Heritage Trust, Historic Environment Scotland, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) and some local construction businesses.

All partner organisations were delighted to take part.

Renfrewshire Council Depute Leader, Cllr Jim Paterson, said: “It’s great to see so many of our young people learning about traditional building skills and having the opportunity to participate in some practical sessions through the Scottish Traditional Building Forum.

“The activity is part of our Townscape Heritage Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme 2 which is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland. The project celebrates the town’s unique heritage which is a key part of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.”

Ian Hughes, CITB Partnerships Director in Scotland, said: “The Traditional Building Skills demonstration in Paisley is one of many similar events throughout the country that CITB is delighted to support through our Educational Engagement Commissioned Fund.


“It’s great to be able to work with partners such West College Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland, who are passionate about, and dedicated to, teaching and preserving the crucial skills needed to help maintain Scotland’s many beautiful and unique traditional buildings. From intricate stonework detailing to lead roofing and tile cutting, an important part of our work is to ensure that we attract and keep talented people in the construction industry who in turn, can benefit from long and successful careers using these fantastic skills. We look forward to supporting many more events as they arrive in Perth and Stirling over the next couple of months.”

Bob Davidson, Programme Director at DYW West, said: “We were delighted to be involved in the event and to help the partner organisations engage with local secondary schools.  Although the weather tried its best to hamper proceedings, the College’s apprentices and school pupils (boys and girls) all did a great job – and got into the spirit of the many hands on activities on offer. This was an excellent example of all the education partners working together with industry to host an inspiring event for young people. We look forward to working further with all the partners involved.”