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Lochlie grows its own talent to prepare for the future

#ScotAppWeek24 Apprenticeships
Lochlie Construction 1

At Lochlie Construction Group, apprentices are key to filling the skilled roles needed in the 21st-century building industry. And in return, they bring energy and bright ideas to the company, based in Hillington. 

Lochlie works in refurbishment, construction and maintenance across central Scotland. It also has a renewables division, installing solar panels, heat pumps and vehicle charging points. The company has all the trades needed in house, to avoid sub-contracting out any elements of a job. 

Out of 66 employees, nine are Modern Apprentices and one is a Graduate Apprentice. A quantity surveyor also qualified as a Graduate Apprentice last year. 

Since Lochlie began taking on apprentices in 2016 they have seen 23 join the business. Four of these were Graduates, 11 were Modern Apprentices and eight moved from junior roles to senior positions. They have an enviable retention rate of 90%. 

Claire McBain, Lochlie’s Business Development Manager, says that apprentices are a crucial part of the company’s contractor-free business model. 

She explained: “The directors here are big believers in growing our own talent. They wanted to pursue this in-house model and started taking on apprentices as early as they could.  

“They know there’s a skill shortage out there and that retention rates can be quite difficult. They decided to pursue apprenticeships as a way of nurturing and pursuing talent from the outset.” 

As well as recruiting through the traditional channels Lochlie work with charities to bring on apprentices who might not otherwise join their business.  

Claire said: “Working with organisations like Action for Children gives more people an opportunity. When we open up our recruitment process we get so many applications. These charities and community organisations give opportunities to people who might not get them through the traditional application process.  

“We have two people who work with us right now, who have been with us for more than five years, who came to us through these avenues.” 

One works in the office and is crucial to the smooth running of the business. Claire said: “She’s an expert in her job, very, very diligent. She is known as the go-to person for queries in anything related to timesheets, purchase orders and IT issues.” 

The other is a plumber who completed his Modern Apprenticeship in 2021 and has gone on to add qualifications in renewable technologies. 

Lochlie Construction Group 2

The apprentices themselves asked to improve their skills with renewables. Lochlie worked with a local college to train them up on these crucial new technologies. 

Lochlie has also invested in an e-learning platform for the apprentices to help them keep on top of their training and keep track of all the certificates they must keep up to date.  

They also get to work surrounded by the latest green technology. The company has retrofitted its own office so that the apprentices can see, first hand, the benefits of heat pumps and solar panels.  

It’s all part of their strategy to be a futureproof company, comfortable with the kit of the future, with a workforce that can integrate the latest developments into larger builds. And it has led to Lochlie being shortlisted at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards in the SME Employer of the Year category sponsored by Well-Safe Solutions. 

The range of work carried out by Lochlie means that the apprentices come away with a rich range of experiences.  

“At a house building firm they would be doing the same thing day in, day out. We’re doing different projects all the time. At the moment we’re doing a newbuild house, a big fire damage reinstatement, a car showroom and some shopfitting. 

“The apprentices have helped grow the business. We have our own pool of talent that we employ directly that we can shape to suit the needs of our company. 

“We can see these apprentices coming through and becoming qualified tradespeople. They can be out on their own, they get great feedback from clients, and we know we’ve done that ourselves. We’ve grown that talent.” 

Find out more

The winner of the SME Employer of the Year category sponsored by Well-Safe Solutions will be revealed during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which takes place from 4 to 8 March

Opens in a new window Go to the awards website