Timber group in finals of apprenticeship awards

BSW Timber Group apprentices Padraig McNeil, Nico Scally, Ruaridh Mills and Stuart Matheson.
BSW Timber Group apprentices Padraig McNeil, Nico Scally, Ruaridh Mills and Stuart Matheson.

An Earlston-based timber group is the only business in the Borders to become finalists at this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

Family-0wned BSW Timber Group, set up by James Waddell in 1848, is now Britain’s biggest saw-milling business, consisting of a 510-strong staff including 19 apprentices in Scotland.

Members of that team will head to Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in two weeks’s time for the awards ceremony organised by Skills Development Scotland in partnership with Arnold Clark.

There they will be up against Arnold Clark and BAE Systems Naval Ships, both based in Glasgow, and an Edinburgh engineering company, Leonardo MW Ltd.

All four businesses are vying for the Large Employer of the Year award, which showcases the commitment of businesses with more than 250 employees to the apprenticeship programme.

Group learning and development manager Tony Lockey believes apprenticeship brings local communities into BSW Timber Group’s workplaces in the Borders, Dumfries and in the Highlands.

He said: “We feel we feel we are training our own ready-built people who are encouraged to get their qualifications and we offer good quality jobs in rural areas, which are sometimes challenging to find.”

Skills Development Scotland chief executive Damien Yeates also said: “This year we had a record number of entries for the awards and the calibre of the finalists is quite simply outstanding.

“Employers like BSW Timber Group are tremendous examples of the success of apprenticeship training and it is great to see their personal and professional commitment to work-based learning being recognised in this way.

“I want to wish the company the very best for the awards.”

The company, which can be credited for employing Scotland’s first female saw doctor, last won an award at the 2016 Highlight Business Awards for its work with young people.

In this latest accolade shortlist, the company will join 30 other hopefuls from across Scotland looking to win awards from 10 categories.

Arnold Clark apprentice recruitment manager Suzanne Sherry added: “Arnold Clark has always understood the value of apprenticeships and the importance of nurturing young talent.

“This year our apprenticeship programme is bigger than ever, with over 300 vacancies in the company.

“As part of that commitment, we’re delighted to sponsor the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

“It’s so inspiring to see how dedicated employers are to apprenticeships and how many hardworking young people benefit from the apprenticeship journey, going on to have long and successful careers in a variety of different industries.

“They really are the future workforce of Scotland.”

There are currently more than 37,000 young people working, learning and earning as modern apprentices.

Managed by Skills Development Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the scheme allows employees to learn on the job developing their skills through experience.