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Apprentice competition launched at Upper Garnock Valley


Foundation Apprentices in Civil Engineering at Ayrshire College have been set a fascinating work experience challenge by McLaughlin & Harvey and North Ayrshire Council.

Launched during Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2021, the civil engineering competition involves first and second year foundation apprentices at the college. The students will be working together in teams to produce a report and a presentation on how they would look to provide sustainable flood protection to Upper Garnock Valley.

The Upper Garnock Valley has a long history of flooding dating back to the 1890s. This is primarily attributed to the River Garnock which flows from north to south through the town of Kilbirnie towards Dalry. If nothing is done, climate change is projected to increase the number of residential and non-residential properties under threat of flooding in this area, by at least 20%.

The modern apprentices at Ayrshire College will be supported throughout the competition by civil engineering mentors from McLaughlin & Harvey. There will be two Q&A opportunities for the groups on 9 March and 30 March, with a 22 April deadline to submit their reports and presentations.

The five-minute presentations will be made over Microsoft Teams to a panel of three judges from Ayrshire College, McLaughlin & Harvey and North Ayrshire Council on 27 April, with the winners announced two days later.

The winning team will be awarded a trophy for their efforts, as well as the opportunity for current first year students to join McLaughlin & Harvey in late 2021/early 2022 for site visits or work placements, subject to any COVID-19 restrictions in place at that time.

The apprentices have been advised to consider:

  • What does the current drainage system look like and where are the major flooding points in the Upper Garnock Valley?
  • What flooding solutions currently exist and could these be incorporated into the solution?
  • What materials could be used to construct the solution?
  • How much will the solution cost to implement?
  • How sustainable is the solution?
  • Does the solution have a dual purpose?

The Ayrshire College students will have access to public consultation documents, drawings of the area, and videos to assist them with their project.

Adrian Pollock, Contracts Manager at McLaughlin & Harvey, said: “McLaughlin & Harvey are delighted to be working in partnership with Ayrshire College to provide Civil Engineering Foundation Apprentices with insightful and rewarding opportunities to link in with our Project Management Team at our Upper Garnock Flood Protection Scheme. We look forward to continuing to work with Ayrshire College throughout this project, providing students with real insight into the construction industry.”

Stuart Millar, Head of Apprenticeships and Work Based Learning at Ayrshire College, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our Foundation Apprentices to develop their knowledge and skills through a Civil Engineering project that is live in Ayrshire just now. Our students will benefit greatly from their experience of a real industrial challenge and we are delighted to be working with Mclaughlin & Harvey on this innovative project.”