Ahead of today’s Scottish Qualification Awards, we spoke to three people who chose a career in construction. We find out what motivated them to want a career in construction and how they got started.

As Construction Ambassadors, they are passionate advocates for the industry with an ongoing mission to inspire the next generation.

Here’s what they had to say:

Catherine Ashcroft - Education coordinator, Eric Wright Learning Foundation

Catherine Ashcroft
Catherine Ashcroft at an event for children
Catherine Ashcroft with school pupils

Use your strengths to take the next step

My degree and background is in sports. I’ve always worked hard and focused on the transferable skills I’ve picked up from working in sport, education and elsewhere.

I’ve supported young people moving into the industry for 15 years and I’m sure I’ve inspired many students to follow their dreams in that time.

Construction is an exciting industry to work in and there’s a niche for everyone whatever your strengths.

Think about working in construction

Talk to people in construction. Find out why they love the jobs they do. Most of all, if you see an opportunity, take it.

We all face challenges and things don’t always work out as planned, but I believe if you want to achieve something, never give up and you’ll achieve your goals.


If you’re not sure what to do, consider construction. There are so many jobs in construction that you might not have heard of.

Whatever your skills and strengths there are things in the industry you can enjoy and lots to achieve. Don’t rule out a career based on stereotypes – give it a go for yourself. If it doesn’t work out try something else. You might just discover a career you’ve never dreamed of.

Peter Baikie - Project Manager, Robertson Construction Northern

Peter Baikie

Enthusiasm will get you far

I thought about going into construction when I left school at 16. I fancied the outdoor life and making something with my hands.

I spent 3 weeks doing work experience on a building site and I really enjoyed the camaraderie. Bricklaying looked good so I asked about an apprenticeship. I didn't really need any qualifications.

Enthusiasm is the most important factor in getting a job. If a person is keen or very enthusiastic it goes a long way, regardless of their educational background. 

Inspiring others to start a career in construction

I've been involved in all kinds of construction, from working as an apprentice bricklayer, through to a senior project manager. I looked around one day and thought, 'where are all the young ones?’ I wanted to take a more active role in encouraging young people into the profession.

A lot of teachers and lecturers don't have an appreciation of all the different roles in construction.

Many women don't get pointed in the right direction. There's a lot more out there for them than just the more academic jobs, like being an architect or a quantity surveyor.

There's no job in construction that a woman can't do as well or better than a man. But there aren't many young women being told about opportunities and roles in the trade.  

My youngest son was very keen on construction. He's now a site manager at the company I work for. And my daughter is a quantity surveyor. The construction industry wasn't mentioned at their school but they learnt about it through me.

There's more than one path to your future

You don't have to go to university to get into a job in construction. Some of the smartest people I know haven't been. Bill Robertson, executive chairman of Robertson Northern, left school at 16 and now employs over 3,000 people.

You can go down the academic route if you show a good aptitude for learning, or you can go in without qualifications and work your way through.


In some ways, learning the academic stuff is easier after you've been working in construction for a while. You've got real-life experience and skills to draw on.

Don't be afraid to try and don't be afraid to fail

If you think you might like it, give it a go. And if it doesn't work out it doesn't matter, you can move on to something else.

You don't need to be in a hurry. Try a variety of things before you decide. If you're not sure what you want to do upfront, don't panic. Try things you're interested in. Don't think this is now what you have to do.  

The good thing about construction is you can be doing almost anything. There are endless opportunities.

Sean MacDonald - Site Manager, BAM Construction

Sean MacDonald

Why become a Construction Ambassador

My employer, BAM constructions, asked me if I wanted to be a construction ambassador. As a recent graduate and someone new to management and the industry, I saw how the training could benefit me - you learn presentation skills, visit schools and colleges and experience the community benefits.

Routes into construction

I was about 16 when I knew I wanted to go into construction. Dad was a road supervisor and some of my uncles were carpenters and ran their own businesses. An opportunity for a joinery apprenticeship came up and I took it. 

I didn't need any qualifications to start. I got my apprenticeship and went on to get an HND (Higher National Diploma) in construction management, ending up with an honours degree in construction management from Glasgow Caledonian University.

During the holidays I could work as a joiner and earn enough money to study full time for the rest of the term.

Because of the way I got into construction, I want to let everyone else know there are different options and different routes into construction. You don't need to know what you're going to do when you first leave school.


I was inspired by all kinds of people, from family to friends getting into further education later on.

If you’re not sure what to do after your results, just follow your interests. Any job opportunity that arises and any work experience can help you in your future career.

Find the roles in construction to suit you

With so many careers and opportunities in construction, there is something for everyone.

Find out which construction roles suit your skills and interests by using our career explorer.

Try our Career Explorer
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