Share this page


Seeing the “surreal” progress of a building on a Dundee construction site confirmed Charlotte Combes’ choice of a civil engineering Foundation Apprenticeship was the right plan.

The 17-year-old spent time on Balfour Beatty’s massive project during her placement at NHS Ninewells Hospital project site in November 2019.

“I saw the changes on the site over a week and progress was surreal. I thought it was amazing and I also got the opportunity to spend time with the project managers who were very helpful. I sat in on meetings about different parts of the project which was also very good,” she said.

Chance to try career

Charlotte found out about Foundation Apprenticeship from her guidance teacher at Grove Academy.

“My sister did a Graduate Apprenticeship at Scottish Water, so I knew about apprenticeships but not that you could do one while you were still at school,” she said.

Foundation Apprenticeships are subject choices for pupils in the senior phase and can be taken over one or two years. Pupils spend time out of the classroom with a learning provider and in a workplace to gain a qualification at the same level as a Higher – which is recognised by all of Scotland’s universities and colleges.

Broughty Ferry-based Charlotte was interested in civil engineering - particularly construction management. The idea of learning, getting experience on site and in the office while getting a Higher appealed to her.

She said: “I would definitely recommend Foundation Apprenticeships to anyone. I would say do the research, find out if is something you want to do and then go for it.  It is a really good path to take and a straightforward process.”

Charlotte plans to go to college to do an HND in civil engineering.

Learning on site

Balfour Beatty's Ninewells Hospital Project Manager, Steve Balfour is on hand to support Charlotte.

Supporting women in construction

Manager Steve Balfour said: “During her time on site Charlotte delivered a presentation to other site members and contributed positively to everyday site tasks. Charlotte being here helps create a higher profile for young women coming into construction.”

Steve, who is in the second year of a Construction Management in the Built Environment Graduate Apprenticeship at Robert Gordon University, sees apprenticeships as vital to the future of the construction industry.

He said: “The company has different types of apprenticeships, from Foundation, the traditional to my own Graduate Apprenticeship and that commitment demonstrates the company’s investment in its staff and the sector.”

More information

Visit to find out more about taking on or becoming a Foundation Apprentice.

Back to Case Studies

Latest news and events

Related case studies

Case studies