Ambitious Scottish housebuilder Springfield Properties is helping its growth plans by unearthing fresh talent through its student placement programme, giving university students a taste of the industry to complement their academic studies.
Over the last two years, the company has placed 11 students in a variety of work experience roles, some through a partnership with universities and others through the self-motivation and initiative of the students themselves. Placement has covered a number of disciplines, including surveying, architecture, accountancy and engineering.
As a direct result, the housebuilder has been able to offer full-time employment to five of those interns, with some already working there, and others set to commence after completing their degree.
The company’s expansion has seen it grow from 206 employees in 2011 to over 540 staff today, and Heather Henderson, group HR director for Springfield Properties, says the placement programme has been key to the company addressing the industry’s skills shortage in order to meet them.
“As a growing business, the work experience programmes help us find the best talent to futureproof the company,” she says. “I’m pleased that we usually manage to place students in their own locality; it shows that people can still build a great career in their home town with a local company.”
“When people are on placement with us, they truly get involved in the real job and are given responsibility. They can be working on planning applications, advertising and house builds. We’re a learning organisation, great at training people and giving them opportunities to flourish, it’s the Springfield way.
Ashleigh Thomson from Buckie was working towards her architecture degree at Robert Gordon University (RGU) when she undertook her placement, and she joined Springfield full-time as an architectural technician after graduating in 2017.
She says: “It is difficult to get a position with a company in your chosen career after graduation if you have no direct experience. Springfield provided me with much-needed commercial awareness, as well as sponsorship to complete my studies. The mentoring and coaching offered by established team members made Springfield a very attractive option once I graduated.”
Among the other employees taken on by the company following a work placement there are 20-year-old Duncan Martin, now a trainee architectural technician; Megan Scotland, 23, who joined the marketing department; and Inverness-based Jack Kemp, 22, who is now working as trainee quantity surveyor. A 19-year-old who has already enjoyed a successful placement is Iain Phimister from Forres, who is set to join in 2020 after completing a surveying degree at RGU.