This year, CUPA PIZARRAS has proudly sponsored six colleges across the UK to support students with resources and materials that will enhance their studies and skillsets. For the third instalment of this series, Total Contractor met with Calum McCarron, a student of roofing at Edinburgh College – one of the colleges benefitting from the sponsorship.
Total Contractor: Hi Calum. Tell us a bit about yourself and why you chose to pursue a career in roofing?
Calum McCarron: Before I began my apprenticeship, I worked as a skilled labourer for several roofing companies. Those years gave me a good insight into the trade and what the job entailed. As I really enjoyed the role, I made the decision to take a roofing apprenticeship so that I could receive the training needed to develop a career as a roofer.
I am now in the second year of my apprenticeship in roofing at Edinburgh College and I’m really enjoying the process so far, especially the slate units. Last year I was delighted to be awarded Slater of the Year for my attention to detail with the product and the high standard of my work, which I was really proud of.
Scotland has a rich heritage of slate use, what is it you like about using slate as a roofing material?
I like working with slate because there are numerous roofing styles that can be achieved by using the material. From textural and graduated installations to mixed colours and patterns, slate gives you the opportunity to pick a material that is practical and achieves the right look for each project. It can also work really well for both modern new-builds and traditional renovations – it’s really versatile. Seeing the completed slate roof when you are finished is also really satisfying.
It’s been a challenging year for students in all areas of education, particularly when studying such a hands-on vocation. Do you feel that your learning has been impacted by the pandemic at all?
Unfortunately, I missed five months of in-person work at college due to the pandemic so I was forced to adapt to the new learning environment of working from home. However, CUPA PIZARRAS’ sponsorship of our course was really helpful in this regard, as the company provided us with online CPD seminars, YouTube videos and digital technical guides to enhance our learning. These virtual resources were able to help me understand more about the products and the benefits of using them while I was unable to attend college.
Do you think it is important for manufacturers like CUPA PIZARRAS to show an interest in the next generation of roofing contractors and provide support with their education?
Yes, absolutely. CUPA PIZARRAS provided our course with free pallets of slate to practice with, that I used throughout my training on various tasks. This enabled all the students, including myself, to receive extensive hands-on experience with good-quality slates available, while we practiced and advanced our skillset.Personally, the sponsorship has been brilliant for me. It has improved my knowledge of the different slate styles, patterns, colours, textures and qualities that are available from product manufacturers. I have also been able to appreciate the importance of high-quality slate and its benefits when specifying for a project.