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Skills upped for Nairn Academy pupil after joining new scheme to retain local talent


By Federica Stefani

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Hill-Tec Ltd’s Duncan MacPherson (right) offered valuable work experience to Konrad Baczkiewicz thanks to a partnership with the Virtual Learning Academy.
Hill-Tec Ltd’s Duncan MacPherson (right) offered valuable work experience to Konrad Baczkiewicz thanks to a partnership with the Virtual Learning Academy.

A new partnership aiming to encourage the next generation of construction professionals is bringing benefits to young people.

Hill-Tec Ltd – headquartered in Inverness but working across the Highlands – has partnered with the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) to introduce young people to construction management.

Nairn Academy student Konrad Baczkiewicz (16), who is studying for an apprenticeship in business skills, was on placement over three months with Hill-Tec.

Under the guidance of VLA, he developed skills in project management, communication, teamwork and document control.

He said: “I really enjoyed working with Hill-Tec, as it was a new experience for me. I’ve learnt that there are a lot more companies in the trade in my area that could take me on as an apprentice after college, and have also developed my communication skills. I have learnt how to create a CV and cover letter, and make use of Chat GPT.”

He has been accepted to study at UHI Inverness on the CECA Scotland Academy (NPA Construction Operations) SCQF5 course.

Foundation Apprenticeships are offered to S5 and S6 pupils alongside traditional Highers – allowing them to gain both practical and theoretical experience. Holding the same credit value as a Higher, the qualifications are awarded based on continuous assessment with hands-on experience included.

Duncan MacPherson, managing director of Hill-Tec, said: “The Highlands has a huge pool of young talent, but many school leavers feel they need to move away to succeed. By partnering with the VLA, we want to show young people in the Highlands that there are fantastic career opportunities right here on our doorstep.

“Konrad is an extremely motivated individual, and we were delighted to have him join us at Hill-Tec.

“Many jobs – even entry level positions – require you to have experience, but the route to getting that experience isn’t always clear. That’s why our partnership with the VLA is so important – it’s helping the next generation get a foot in the door.

“We enjoyed a busy few months with Konrad, not just teaching but also learning from his fresh perspectives and the energy he brought to the team.”

VLA managing director Cath Sutherland said: “This collaboration bridges the gap between education and the workplace, providing students with invaluable experiences.

“It is crucial for companies to support and mentor young talent, as it not only enriches their skills but also contributes to the growth and sustainability of industries.”


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