The managing director of a family-owned construction business in Ayrshire has declared it is “vital to invest in future generations” to address “significant” skills shortages in the sector.

Janice Russell, who heads McTaggart Group, also highlighted her belief that such investment in young people “motivates and energises” the overall workforce, in the wake of the business winning the Large Employer of the Year category at the 21st Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

The Dalry-based social housing provider highlighted its success in supporting 80 per cent of its apprentices to overcome barriers to employment.

READ MORE: Are Scottish Greens giving SNP a bad name on business?: Ian McConnell

It noted that most of its sites are “in places where educational attainment and progression into a positive destination beyond school is lower than the national average”, and highlighted its belief that “construction can provide life-changing opportunities”.

McTaggart Group noted it “promotes the industry through foundation apprenticeships for school pupils, offering career routes outside traditional academic pathways”.

The firm has 33 modern apprentices from Scottish vocational qualification (SVQ) levels two to five currently working in areas including scaffolding, plant operations, joinery, plumbing, electrical installation, site supervision, construction management and business administration. It also offers graduate apprenticeships.

READ MORE: Denial after denial from brass-necked Tory arch-Brexiter

McTaggart Group has been supporting apprentices for more than 20 years.

The company said: “More than 100 apprentices, representing 13% of the McTaggart Group workforce, are enrolled in an apprenticeship initiative at any one time with a dedicated team supporting their needs. In 2022 a new training facility was built, allowing site-based vocational learning for operational staff.”

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: Simple arithmetic eludes peacock-like Brexiters

Ms Russell said: “As a family business we believe it’s vital to invest in future generations. Supporting new talent not only addresses significant skills shortage in construction and creates a sustainable pipeline of new talent but it motivates and energises the workforce."

She added: “As a social housing provider, our commitment to the regeneration of some of Scotland’s most-deprived areas goes beyond the brick and mortar of new housing. It’s about helping the people at the heart of those communities and creating opportunity wherever possible in the communities we are helping create.”

McTaggart Group noted that, of the apprentices enrolled within the firm in the last 12 months, 90% had been retained.

Frank Mitchell, who chairs taxpayer-funded Skills Development Scotland, said: “Apprenticeships are more critical now than ever, due to fast-paced changes in the workplace, and apprentices can be employed in real jobs, making sure the skills gained are current through work-based learning.

“The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards provide a platform to show how apprenticeships can help to create a diverse and inclusive workforce and that opportunities have been taken by individuals from across society, who have gone on to flourish in the workplace.”