Empowering Tomorrow’s Workforce: Portobello High School event

Author: John
30th October 2023
4 min read

In October 2023, Portobello High School ran events preparing 5th year pupils who may be thinking of finding an apprenticeship in the construction industry.


The communication and numeracy skills required to become an apprentice

The school hosted a series of workshops focusing on Communication and Numeracy Skills in the World of Work.

Our very own Michael Cairns, the Director at Celsius Plumbing and Heating, was invited to attend and talk about apprenticeships and becoming an apprentice plumber or heating engineer.  Being a previous pupil of Portobello High School ‘back in the day’ (editor’s note – well, in the 1990’s) Michael welcomed the invitation to share his skills and knowledge to the pupils.

Aaron, one of our 3rd-year Plumbing and Heating apprentices also presented, and he proved to be a real hit.


Aaron presenting on becoming an apprenctice plumbing and heating engineer
Here is Aaron presenting to the 5th year pupils


Bridging education and employment

The workshops aimed to bridge the gap between conventional education and the practical skills needed in the trades.  Local employers and employees were asked to come and chat with the pupils and help them understand the substantial role of numeracy and communication skills if they wanted to become an apprentice in the construction industry.


Some of the comments from the pupils were really encouraging:
● “Numeracy is used with almost everything, everyday in the job”
● “Need good social skills”
● “Learnt ways to apply for an apprenticeship”


An engaged audience!

Teachers also commented how some of the young people, who would often sit in the back of a class with a hoodie up with the odd nod to the teacher, were actively engaged and communicating in the workshop.  One teacher said they are aiming to take some of the learning concepts into their Maths classes and will review the entry numeracy requirements into the relevant apprenticeship with some of the young people.

Michel and Aaron shared their knowledge and tried to show the connections between school life and the professional trades.  The pupils were taken through what it takes to become a plumbing apprentice and what the job application process would look like.  Michael provided top tips on screen for everyone to see and a video from our very own Andrew (who completed his apprenticeship back in 2021) was really helpful in explaining how to prepare if they wanted to find an apprenticeship – see here .

Michael and Aaron then showed the pupils how to measure up radiators using a tape measure and then how to calculate room size volume, to give a real-life example of what a plumbing and heating apprentice would have to do in their day to day working life.  This practical exercise really engaged the pupils and they seemed to enjoy the learning.

Aaron, who is 18 and currently studying for his 4 year SNIPEF Apprenticeship (MA) in plumbing and heating with Celsius, took the time to share his journey with the school pupils.  Being a (hopefully) relatable figure, the pupils were able to ask Aaron questions on what it took for him to become an apprentice at the age of 16 and how he was chosen from over 100 applicants that applied for the job back in 2021.

Aaron was excellent, commented Michael, “he stood in front of a classroom of young people, not much younger than himself and spoke with such maturity and confidence.  He was really impressive and knowledgeable.”


Thoughts from our director, Michael Cairns

“An apprenticeship is a fantastic way to obtain a skill for life.  Let us know if you’re interested in joining the Celsius team and becoming an apprentice plumber.”  Please find out more here.


Follow-on from the day

Following the workshop, we have shared some examples with the school of the Aptitude & Selection Test that all applicants have to sit if they want to gain an apprenticeship in plumbing and heating.


Here’s some feedback we’ve received from the school:

“Hi Michael

This is an excellent resource for us to review and use. I am going to share it with the Guidance teachers here, Careers Advice and some of the Maths teachers are going to use it in their Maths class with the young people.

Your workshop went down very well and reading over the feedback form you got the message across very well.  The Maths teacher who was in your session thought you really hit the mark.  Thanks to Aaron also!

Thanks so much!”

DYW School Co-ordinator at Portobello High School


We look forward to visiting the school again – and hopefully one of these 5th year pupils will become a new appentice plumber in 2024!!



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