City Building is one of Scotland’s largest construction firms, with over 2,200 staff. The Glasgow business is underpinned by a unique social ethos which includes providing sustainable employment for a diverse range of people including those with disabilities and other under-represented groups.
As part of its socially inclusive approach the organisation has established a comprehensive youth employment policy, which includes a dedicated additional support for learning (ASL) schools programme.
Every year, 35 pupils from ASL schools around Glasgow take part in vocational learning at Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries (RSBi), City Building’s manufacturing City Buildingdivision, where more than half of employees have a disability.
Pupils study vocational options alongside their other school subjects for one half-day per week over the academic year and all delivery takes place in a ‘real life’ factory environment. The incorporation of on-site learning enables pupils to gain genuine work experience alongside an educational qualification in SVQ Performing Manufacturing Operations.
RSBi is the only organisation that delivers a quality accredited vocational training programme to pupils from ASL schools in Glasgow. The city’s other vocational education providers are all colleges.
One ASL pupil who successfully completed the programme and went on to gain full time employment at RSBi is machine operator Martin McGarvie, 26.
Martin, who joined RSBi in 2010, received literacy and numeracy support at the factory’s Learning Centre to help him flourish in his job and learn new life skills.
“I got my job after being in the schools programme. I got doing stuff around the factory and thought, ‘this is what I want to do’. My bosses showed me what to do, and you just pick it up and learn it. When I came here I probably didn’t have much confidence, now I have great confidence. My maths have improved after I got help, and my reading and my writing especially have improved.”
“You’re working, but you’re making friends and having a laugh. Just going and doing your work and liking it is great.”
To recruit for the programme, RSBi attends Glasgow City Council’s annual Vocational Programme Open Day. All interested pupils are invited to a taster session at RSBi to provide and insight into the factory and an opportunity to use some of the hand tools. Employees who’ve been part of the programme also act as ambassadors by visiting ASL schools to encourage pupils to participate.
Since City Building was established in 2006 more than 400 ASL pupils have undertaken workplace learning at RSBi.