Jan 272017

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

ITCA’s new fabrication/welding instructor and assessor, Richard Femister.

A leading North-east apprenticeship-training centre has strengthened its team with two key appointments.

ITCA Training, which is headquartered in the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, has recruited Stewart Caie as a business development executive and Richard Femister as a fabrication/welding instructor and assessor.

Mr Caie, 51, of Portlethen, has over 25 years experience in sales roles across a number of industries, including medicine and engineering, and previously worked in business development at a hydraulic engineering firm before joining ITCA.

Mr Femister, 34, from Aberdeen, originally started his career at ITCA, where he trained for his fabrication and welding certificates. Since then, he has gained 15 years experience in welding and fabrication and has two years of experience in inspection. He joins the firm from an oil and gas valve services company.

ITCA, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, works with a wide range of businesses across the North-east to provide training for young employees, with both traditional hands-on and business-focused courses and apprenticeships.

Mr Caie said:

“It is very rewarding to be working for a company that focuses on the development of the future workforce. It is my responsibility to develop existing business, as well as expanding ITCA’s current portfolio, and I am looking forward to building strong relationships with our clients.”

ITCA’s new business development executive, Stewart Caie.

Mr Femister said:

“Training at ITCA as an apprentice gave me the opportunity to learn and develop important skills in welding and fabrication, as well as the importance of health and safety.

“I am enjoying being back at the company where it all began, as I get the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with the range of learners who attend the courses at ITCA and the apprentices who are just at the beginning of their careers.”

Managing director of ITCA Training, June Jones, said:

“I am very pleased to welcome two highly skilled individuals to the ITCA team. Stewart and Richard each bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, which will prove extremely beneficial to ITCA clients and our learners.

“Having Stewart on board will enable us to continue to develop, whilst Richard will help train the next generation to the highest of standards.”

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the  Kirkhill  Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space.

The company has been in operation in the  North-east  since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.    

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com 

Dec 012016

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

june-jones-and-rachel-elliot-1A leading North-east apprenticeship-training firm has been awarded a gold level accreditation for meeting the standards set by Developing the Young Workforce’s (DYW) Quality Accreditation.

ITCA Training, based at the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, Aberdeen, received the accolade for its commitment to training and developing young talent.

Established in 1989, the firm provides a large number of learners with the opportunity to train in a wide range of disciplines, such as welding and fabrication, business administration, mechanical engineering, and logistics operations management.

Through its Skills for Engineers (S4E) course, ITCA provides training to young learners aged 16-18, who are no longer in full-time education. The programme is designed to prepare young people for the workplace, as it helps to boost confidence, improve their practical skill set, and provide them with health and safety awareness.

ITCA is currently working closely with three local schools to help pupils gain an industry standard qualification. By attending ITCA’s premises one day a week, pupils gain skills and experience in engineering disciplines and will achieve an SVQ Level 1 Performing Engineering Operations qualification. The eight-month initiative is now into its second year, with ITCA hoping to expand the initiative by developing links and working collaboratively with more schools in Aberdeen City and Shire.

As well as school pupils and school leavers, ITCA also works with young learners in full-time employment, as the firm offers bespoke training courses and framework to businesses with graduates or Modern Apprentices. These programmes give young people the opportunity to earn whilst they learn, gain new skills, and achieve a qualification that will help advance their career.

June Jones, managing director at ITCA Training, said:

“We are always happy to be recognised for the work we do with all our learners, as we cover all different types of participants and age groups and are dedicated to providing the highest quality training programmes. The accreditation is an acknowledgement of the hard work by all staff at ITCA to prove that we are indeed providing gold standard training.

“We work very hard to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to young people. University and college is not for everyone, so it is important that businesses are providing adequate training and development opportunities for their current and future employees. We need to all work together to ensure there is a future workforce.”

Rachel Elliot, manager at Developing the Young Workforce, said:

“We would like to congratulate ITCA on receiving DYW’s Quality Accreditation at gold level, so far they’re only the second business to be awarded gold in the North-east of Scotland.”

“We were extremely impressed with ITCA and the work that they do with young learners, as they were able to demonstrate that they provide training and development opportunities to a significant number of young people.

“With businesses often challenging young people to have better communication, numeracy and group work skills, it is encouraging to see that ITCA has all the right programmes in place to help young people develop these skills.”


ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the Kirkhill Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the North-east since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.   

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com

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Oct 272016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR


Sophie Ewen.

Aberdonian Sophie Ewen (20), who began her career as an apprentice, has been nominated as Apprentice Ambassador of the Year in the 2016 Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

Sophie, who completed her business and administration modern apprenticeship with Aberdeen Asset Management, is now the firm’s graduate programme co-ordinator.

The awards, which are organised by Skills Development Scotland will be announced at The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on 3 November.

The awards aim to showcase excellent apprentices who deserve recognition for their hard work as well as employers who are committed to the apprenticeship programme.

Sophie, who is a former pupil at the city’s St Machar Academy, was one of the first apprentices recruited by Aberdeen Asset Management in 2012 when the apprenticeship programme was introduced to complement the company’s existing intern and graduate programmes.

As well as studying for her Highers and Advanced Highers, Sophie was an active participant in the school’s extracurricular groups as well as being on the school’s charity committee and involved with the equal opportunities group.

Initially considering applying for a University course, Sophie was attracted to the business and administration modern apprenticeship as a way to join a large global company where she could earn while she learned and gain valuable working experience.  Through the structured rotation programme between different departments, Sophie quickly realised that HR was the perfect fit for her.

On completion of her apprenticeship, Sophie remained in the HR team where she helps in the co-ordination of Aberdeen Asset Management’s talent programme including apprenticeships, investment trainees, interns and graduates. Sophie also runs employability workshops for school leavers, mentors young people to help them get job-ready and finds time to volunteer with a number of training related charities.

Aberdeen supported Sophie to complete her investment operations qualification and she is currently working towards an HR chartership.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management commented:

“Sophie clearly has all the attributes and skills needed to be an Apprentice Ambassador of the Year. With her ambition and initiative she is a popular member of the Aberdeen team and never fails to help colleagues. Just like Sophie, we’ve found all our apprentices to be keen, motivated individuals who are committed to on-the-job training and learning.

“By rotating to different departments, our apprentices learn a wide range of skills and develop knowledge that will stand them in good stead for the future, while gaining a feel for the business and finding out which area best suits them and their skills and interests. We will all be cheering on Sophie in November when the winners are announced.”

The Aberdeen Asset Management programme for apprenticeships which will start in September 2017 will open in February 2017. The apprenticeship runs for 12 to 24 months and apprentices rotate to different teams every four months to give a well-rounded view of the asset management industry and its related functions.

The rotational aspect of the programme helps apprentices learn about the organisation, meet the people involved and help them decide which area of the business to begin their career in. As well as learning on the job, Aberdeen provides apprentices with an extensive induction, access to training courses and qualifications during their apprenticeship. More can be found at http://graduates.aberdeen-asset.com/en/graduates/apprenticeships.

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Sep 282015

Phil Duffield from Scottish Power Foundation (centre) meets Trees for Life volunteers (left-right) Sam Manning, Grace Burger, Emily Warner and Rebecca Schmidt at Dundreggan Conservation Estate

With thanks to Richard Bunting.

Award-winning conservation charity Trees for Life is running a new project to develop high-quality conservation volunteering opportunities for young people, thanks to a grant of £20,000 from the ScottishPower Foundation.

Those benefitting from the initiative include students from Aberdeen University, Peterborough Open Awards Centre, Glasgow University and Leicestershire’s Brooksby Melton College.

“This generous grant from ScottishPower Foundation is excellent news for the Caledonian Forest and its rare species, and for dozens of young people who will be able to study and carry out practical hands-on conservation work – including the establishment of native woodlands and managing land for wildlife,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Executive Director.

“The funding will enable us to make our project accessible to the widest range of young people – particularly those facing disadvantages and financial barriers to participation.”

Ann Loughrey, Trustee and Executive Officer at the ScottishPower Foundation, said:

“The ScottishPower Foundation is committed to supporting community programmes that inspire young people to get more out of life, whilst giving something back to their local community.

“Through the Trees for Life initiative, the young people involved will gain practical skills that will support their career ambitions, as well as valuable life skills. We are delighted to support Trees for Life and wish all the young people involved every success for the future.”

The project will benefit 70 young people aged 18-25 years old during 2015. Through both week-long courses and long-term volunteering placements, the young people will be able to develop new skills and strengthen their employability.

Activities will include the planting of native trees and plants to expand woodland habitat, collecting and propagating seeds in a specialised tree nursery at Trees for Life’s acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate near Loch Ness, and carrying out biodiversity surveys.

Although only a fraction of the former Caledonian Forest now survives, Trees for Life volunteers have helped to plant more than one million trees at dozens of locations across the Highlands, and to create 10,000 acres of new forest. The charity has pledged to establish one million more trees by planting and natural regeneration by 2018.

For more information about Trees for Life, see www.treesforlife.org.uk or call 01309 691292.

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Feb 122015

Alex-Salmond-cropWith thanks to Ann-Marie Parry.

Alex Salmond MSP has written to three Inverurie businesses to congratulate them on their success at the Scottish Independent Retail Awards.

The Aberdeenshire East MSP also lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament in recognition of the awards.

Davidsons Butcher won the Butcher Shop of the Year for the North East area, Mitchells Dairy won Convenience Store of the Year for the North West region and the town’s Vanity won the Fashion/Accessories Retailer of the Year accolade for the North East.

The awards were announced on Sunday night at an awards ceremony in Glasgow.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Alex Salmond said:

“Inverurie has a wealth of independent retailers who offer so much variety and quality to local residents and visitors.

“I am delighted that these businesses have been recognised for all the hard work they do in promoting local produce and supporting the local economy.

“Both owners and staff alike should be very proud of their achievements.”

Salmond also welcomed new figures showing that Scotland is on course to exceed the target of 25,000 new Modern Apprenticeships this year – including a total of 1,034 starts in Aberdeenshire.

The figures released by Skills Development Scotland show that by the end of the third quarter of 2014/15 there were 19,517 modern apprenticeship starts in Scotland – 78 per cent of the total annual target and a two per cent increase on the same point last year.

Alex Salmond MSP said:

“These very welcome figures are testament to the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in youth employment – creating almost 100,000 new apprenticeship opportunities over the last four years including a total of 1,034 starts in Aberdeenshire in 2014/15 so far.

“Apprenticeships play a key role in the Scottish Government’s efforts to promote youth employment and these figures are further evidence of the real results being achieved for young people across Aberdeenshire– but there is always more which could be done.

“With the full range of economic powers in Scotland’s hands rather than Westminster’s we can do even more to boost youth employment and give local young people the opportunities they deserve.

“It is time for the ‘extensive’ new powers we were promised from Westminster to be delivered to the Scottish Parliament as this would allow us to do even more to support young people in Aberdeenshire in to work.”

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Dec 192014

gym2With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Aberdeen Sports Village, a partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council and sportscotland has achieved Investors in Young People and Investors in People Gold

Investors in Young People is the only people management standard that focuses on an employer’s recruitment and retention of young people, while achieving IIP Gold puts Aberdeen Sports Village in the top 7% of all IIP accredited organisations.

Launched in July 2014, Investors in Young People originated through a key recommendation from the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, led by Sir Ian Wood. The accreditation is offered to all businesses across Scotland and exists to recognise and support organisations across Scotland in the employment of young people.

Having now achieved both accreditations, Aberdeen Sports Village is now eligible to use and display the Investors in People and Investors in Young People logo and plaque, and enjoy their benefits.

Commenting on the award, David Beattie, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Sports Village, said:

“We’re immensely proud to have been awarded both IIP Gold and IIYP accreditation and I believe this represents our firm commitment to each of our employees and demonstrates the good practice we have in place. 

“We have a fantastic, passionate and diverse team at Aberdeen Sports Village and having achieved both IIP Gold and IIYP shows just how far we have come as an organisation since opening in 2009.”

Peter Russian, Chief Executive of Investors in People Scotland, said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for Aberdeen Sports Village, and I and the whole IIP team would like to wholeheartedly congratulate them. Achieving both IIP Gold and IIYP is a fantastic achievement. The Investors in Young People framework not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, but marks them out as an employer of choice.  I envisage that many more organisations in the North East of Scotland will wish to follow in the footsteps of Aberdeen Sports Village and demonstrate their commitment to young people by working with the Investors in Young People framework.” 

He continued:

“The benefits of recruiting and developing young people are countless. These include the creation of a talent pool for the future, new and increased skills in areas such as IT and social media, fresh eyes and mind-sets into business operations along with enthusiasm and unique talents.”

Aberdeen Sports Village opened in August 2009 to provide world class sport and exercise opportunities to everyone in the community. These opportunities were further enhanced with the opening of a state of the art Aquatics Centre in May 2014. The organisation recently defended its ‘Scottish Gym of the Year’ title at the 2014 National Fitness Awards.

Oct 212013

CB-002With thanks to Dave Macdermid

A growing NE service company has reinforced its commitment to investment in young and talented personnel with the hiring of the organisation’s twentieth subsea technician, Scott White.

Scott spent more than a decade in the Royal Navy and is delighted with his change of career.

Scott said:

It is very exciting to join the company at this growth stage and to become part of this organisation. I am looking forward to commence my on-the-job training after completing intense in house training.”

Since its formation in 2009, East Tullos-based SUBC Engineering has amassed a total of 130 engineers.

Managing Director Colin Burney ( pictured )  is aware of the need to invest in the future of the industry, and said:

We are pleased to have all those new and talented people as part of our successful and expanding team as our business relies absolutely on knowledgeable and talented people and, as a consequence of our intensive growth plans, we plan to hire an additional forty personnel over the next twelve months to meet the growing demand for our services.”

All SUBC offshore employees undergo rigorous internal competence-based training programmes. Newer and less-experienced engineers also take part in mentoring sessions with in-house mentors, each of whom have more than a quarter of a century’s offshore experience as subsea engineers.


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Oct 112013

With thanks to Stevie Kearney.

mag-cover_2A new training course for aspiring NE music journalists is being launched as part of the 57º North web portal, run through community media charity Station House Media Unit (SHMU).
57º North is the online music hub for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and now, thanks to funding from Aberdeen City Council’s Cultural Grant Awards, free training is on offer for those who wish to learn all about music journalism and have their work published on the website.

Each course will comprise four two hour sessions. The aim is to teach writing skills, interview techniques and develop music industry knowledge, with those completing the course becoming accredited writers for www.57north.org.

Accredited writers will have the opportunity to score press passes for gigs and interview local and touring musicians.

There is no age limit and previous experience is not necessary, although applicants will need to display a passion for writing and promoting the NE music scene.

The classes will be offered on Wednesdays from 1800-2000, starting on October 23, at Seventeen, the city’s cultural hub on Belmont Street,

57º North Project Manager Stevie Kearney said:

This is a fabulous opportunity for people to learn all about music journalism and be part of a ground-breaking project, helping promote music in and around Aberdeen.

For years people have complained that the region’s music scene lacks a focal point – the opportunity is now here with a not-for-profit project and having an army of local music writers providing news, reviews and interviews is central to the successful promotion of the North-east as a hotbed of musical talent and culture.”

Launched earlier this year, www.57north.org provides everything the local music community could want, from gig listings and news, to artist profiles and a massive resources section. Last week the team published The 57º North Guide to DIY Gig Promotion, a free online document detailing the ins and outs of putting on a gig, designed to help develop more promoters and thus a more vibrant music scene.

The not-for-profit venture was set up by SHMU with backing from Creative Scotland and the project has had input from Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen International Youth Festival, Aberdeen College and Aberdeen Performing Arts.

Courses will run until the end of March. Places are limited but all applications are welcomed. For an application pack and more information, e-mail info@57north.org or call 01224 515013 and ask for Stevie Kearney.

Aug 302013

Paul Lawrie with ChequeWith thanks to Dave Macdermid.

A group of NE business professionals has presented over £3000 to the Paul Lawrie Charitable Foundation to help more youngsters play golf to the best of their ability in a fun-based environment.

Aberdeen based h-events’ Managing Director Harvey Smith explained:

“Paul and his team do a fantastic job of getting kids interested in playing golf through his Charitable Foundation. h-events are fully supportive of their work and it was for that reason that we decided to seek the assistance of our guests who travelled with us on the Orient Express to the Open Championship at Muirfield. I am delighted to present this cheque for £3360 on behalf of all 276 clients whose generosity and support I very much appreciate.”

The innovative method of travel was well received by h-events customers.

Having booked the Orient Express in the past, I knew it would go down well and we sold out all the seats in less than a week. Travelling in luxury simply enhanced what was always going to be a memorable day and the customer feedback has already indicated that the trip was ‘the best corporate event our company have ever done’. We are certainly planning to repeat the exercise at next year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles,” added Smith.

Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion and Ryder Cup star was delighted to accept the donation, and said:

“This is fantastic and really appreciated. The money will go towards the planned expansion of our academy over the coming months and I’m very grateful to Harvey and his guests.”

h-events is now the foremost provider of sporting corporate hospitality in NE Scotland and will be expanding too, celebrating its seventh anniversary by opening a Glasgow office, as Smith outlined:

Whilst the NE does enjoy its own micro economy and has been almost recession proof, enquiries from the central belt have increased to the extent that it makes sense to have a presence there. The demand for something just a bit different is always present.

“Whilst probably two-thirds of our business is sports-related, we’re organising a St Andrews night ball on the Royal Yacht Britannia, the kind of event that we are looking at outwith the standard corporate hospitality package. We are increasing our market share of conference and events business with top speakers and entertainment never previously seen in the NE.”

Jan 242013

Following a comment made on a Facebook debate about the difficulty local construction companies can experience in winning building contracts, Voice invited Kenny Anderson to explain further the issues which can leave small local companies at a disadvantage. 

First of all, I’m not having a go at the current local administration or the last one either – I believe problems are caused by the zealous behaviour of officials and civil servants.

For example, in straightforward financial terms we came second for a contract a couple of weeks ago.
We have no problem with that, since all six tenderers were perfectly capable of doing the job.

Some you win, some you lose.  The problem is with the weighting applied to the decision-making.

The lowest tender in this instance was submitted at £315,000.  Ours came in at £321,000, but the clear-cut arithmetic price only carried a 40% weighting, whilst the entirely subjective Total Quality Assessment (TQA) element carried a 60% weighting.

The end result was that a tender for £399,000 was accepted, thus costing the customer and tax payers an additional £84,000!

This is repeated in award after award in some areas of the public sector.  Under TQA guidelines, each tender applicant has to submit a Lever Arch file’s worth of job specific programmes, method statements, personnel CVs and other project-specific information with each tender, meaning that the system is loaded in favour of large companies with planning departments.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) like ourselves can’t justify having senior managers spend four or five hours doing this for each of the ten to fifteen jobs we bid for every week.

It’s not that we object to providing such level of detail as a condition of acceptance, prior to acceptance and site start.  If we failed to do so, we’d expect the contract to be awarded to the next contractor.

Meanwhile, we subscribe to Constructionline, a self-financed scheme run by the UK government for all government agencies, including local authorities and housing associations.  It checks our finances, insurance arrangements, capabilities and so on, providing this information free of charge to government agencies.

Some agencies, however, still choose to sift through this vast array of information for each tenderer themselves, which is incredibly wasteful.

The old system worked on the basis that if you were suitably qualified to do the work, the lowest tender was appointed, and if you screwed up, you were removed from the approved list until you could prove that you’d addressed concerns, whereupon you’d be given a second chance.

it’s common for SMEs to be screwed, by not being paid, by being paid late or by having deductions made

New companies built up gradually from undertaking smaller jobs and out of town contractors who had a track record and wanted to trade here got their chance too.  It was simple, transparent and fair.  Brutal at times, believe me, but fair!

Now frameworks, hub agreements and suchlike exist nationwide and clearly discriminate against SMEs.

The government argues that SMEs can sub-contract work to big contractors.  How likely do you think that is?  And when this happens it’s common for SMEs to be screwed, by not being paid, by being paid late or by having deductions made.  You’re effectively playing poker with billionaires, so the legal system is too slow for worthwhile recourse.

Value for money?  I don’t think so, and there are numerous tricks the big companies could potentially employ to rip off the public sector.

All the while, it is SMEs who maintain local offices paying full business rates, take on staff on traditional contracts and recruit apprentices and young administrative staff trainees.

One large nationwide company operating in Aberdeen ‘uses’ sub-contractors, has most of its managers on fixed-term contracts and doesn’t take on apprentices.  Several huge, high profile local contracts are being undertaken by similar contractors who operate this way.  One locally-based big company used to take on 40 apprentices every year but they’ve been undercut by large management contractors and cannot now recruit the volume of apprentices they once did.  This is a travesty.

I have to stress that I’m not against outside contractors coming in, I just think they should have to establish a base, employ people appropriately and recruit trainees and apprentices as we do.

If every construction company in the UK had the same proportion of trainees and apprentices in its workforce as us, youth unemployment figures would be dramatically lower!

I’m giving evidence to the Scottish Government Procurement Inquiry although I’m very concerned my comments will fall on deaf ears.  I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect I’m right.

Kenny is MD of Anderson Construction, based in Northfield, Aberdeen and is former Chairman and elected Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Scotland.

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