Student lifts apprentice prize

An Edinburgh College Construction student has received a festive treat with a gold medal at the Scottish Building Apprenticeship Training Council (SBATC) Apprentices of the Year Awards.

Plastering apprentice Lewis McKerchar won the James Birnie Award for Craft Excellence Apprentice of the Year Award, at the ceremony held at the Scottish Parliament.

Fellow Edinburgh College student Andrew Herriot, a carpentry and joinery apprentice, was one of the other five finalists. Students from across Scotland were nominated for awards by employers and training providers including CITB, District Councils and Historic Scotland.

Lewis is completing his apprenticeship at Fife District Council, who put him forward for the award.

He said: “I am bursting with pride. To come out as the overall winner of the James Birnie Award and be classed as the top craft apprentice in Scotland is overwhelming.

“I believe there are over 100 apprentices on the books at Fife Council so to even be nominated was a fantastic achievement.”

At the interview stage, he was quizzed on a typical day’s work and how he would sell a trade to someone leaving school, as well as about his aspirations for the future.

He added: “The training I’ve had at Edinburgh College has been of such a high standard and got me prepared for the working environment.”

Manus Cunningham, Lewis’s lecturer at the college, said: “Lewis has produced quality work on his own initiative from day one. He has needed little intervention from lecturers and has acted as a buddy, and a mentor, to fellow students with lesser ability. This has made him a popular team player and I am delighted that he is now reaping the rewards.”

Andrew Herriot started his college journey through the Skills for Work programme at school. Following a National Progression Award, he has now completed an apprenticeship programme with his employer, joinery firm Hutton and Read.

Edinburgh College has a variety of pre-apprenticeship courses available for January start including everything from carpentry and joinery to trowel trades.