Bishopbriggs graduate leads the way for women in construction careers

A young Bishopbriggs graduate is leading the way in encouraging more women to enter the construction industry.

Karen Jeffrey

Karen Jeffrey is one of the “next generation of talent” from a graduate apprenticeship programme which gives employees the opportunity to gain higher education via the workplace.

Working with GRAHAM engineering firm, Karen (25) along with three others, including Jos Mackie from Lenzie, have completed degrees in construction built environment and civil engineering at Heriot Watt University.

Sign up to our GlasgowWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hosted and funded by Skills Development Scotland, the programme provides a new route into degree level education for those currently employed, or those who want to go straight into the workplace.

The courses have been designed around the needs of the construction industry to ensure employees are learning skills that contribute to business needs.

The new graduates will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from their degree courses on some of GRAHAM’s most high-profile projects, such as Central Quay and Buchanan Wharf, Glasgow.

Karen Jeffrey (25), who has been working on site at Buchanan Wharf, said: “I’ve always had an interest in construction, particularly buildings and how they are constructed and maintained.

"When I left school, I originally pursued a degree in building surveying, but I desperately wanted to develop my practical experience.

“I applied for an apprenticeship with GRAHAM and started their programme to gain a technical apprenticeship at HNC level. From there, GRAHAM has been fantastic at continuing to develop my skillset and further my potential by putting me forward for the Graduate Apprenticeship.

“When the pandemic struck, our mentors at Heriot Watt University and the team at GRAHAM were supportive throughout and ensured we all stayed on track.

“The course has provided me with a great blend of theory and on-the-job experience on the Buchanan Wharf projects - expertise which I’m excited to take forward into the next chapter of my career.”

More than 200 graduates have taken part in the programme with GRAHAM since 2015.

A member of the “5% Club”, a group of companies committed to ensuring 5% of their workforce over the next five years is comprised of young people on structured learning schemes, GRAHAM is already ahead of the curve, with 13% of its workforce fitting the criteria.

GRAHAM is also a member of the Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Programme, an industry-wide initiative that aims to make workplaces better for everyone.