Life as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor

Having recently joined the Worksmart team through our Graduate Program, Cameron Maudsley talks to us about life as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor. Cameron has a bright future ahead of him and is a great role model for other young people looking to enter the industry.

How long have you been with Worksmart Contracts and how have you found settling in?

I have been at Worksmart for just under 2 months so far but since my first day I have felt very welcome within the company. After being introduced and working alongside the team, it is obvious that Worksmart Contracts go to serious lengths to provide an enjoyable and positive working environment. This helps to ensure the team are as productive and efficient as possible.

After only 2 months of employment I have been accepted as a valued employee, making the settling in process very enjoyable and straightforward.

Describe your role and the responsibilities you have within Worksmart?

The team have been incredibly eager to push my abilities forward by consistently adding new roles and responsibilities to my job. The tasks I’ve been given the responsibility of dealing with include: attending sites and writing up reports, engaging and building relationships with subcontractors, as well as taking measurements from architect’s drawings.

Is this what you’ve always wanted to do?

During my years throughout high school I always took an interest Mathematics and Physics as they were based on calculations that were applicable to everyday life. However, I had no thoughts as to what career path I wanted to pursue. After carefully researching my options and discovering the Quantity Surveying (BSc) course at Edinburgh Napier University, I was intrigued. The concept that a job could involve problem solving in both an office and on-site appealed to me and encouraged me to apply for the course. Working in the construction field as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor in Worksmart Contracts has enhanced my enthusiasm for the job and reassured me of my decision.

How did your working relationship with Worksmart materialise?

I was given the opportunity to work for Worksmart Contracts through Edinburgh Napier University after my course leader received an email from the Commercial Manager offering an opportunity to interview regarding a Trainee Quantity Surveyor position.

How would you describe Worksmart as a company and how do you feel you have been supported as a graduate?

Worksmart have been very supportive of my career by ensuring that I am always taking on new tasks to expand my knowledge of the field of work. They have invested in me as an individual and are constantly pushing me forward so that I may learn new skills to be the become an experienced Quantity Surveyor at the end of my training.

Do you feel students at university are given enough encouragement and support to move into grad schemes?

For my first few years in university, I was aware that graduate apprenticeship schemes existed but wasn’t aware of how beneficial they could be. My time spent working as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor has expanded my knowledge which has helped me grasp concepts of my course that will help me in my future years of studying.

How do you think Worksmart’s graduate program compares to others that you have read about, spoke to people about etc?

Personally, Worksmart’s graduate program offers a lot more benefits to other programs that I am aware of through course mates, friends and colleagues. This is due to the value I have been given as an employee opposed to being treated like a number in a system which has been the case for multiple friends working graduate apprenticeships within the construction industry.

Where would you like to be in 5 years career wise?

In 5 years’ time I would hope to be a fully Qualified Quantity Surveyor and dealing with my own individual projects within Worksmart.

What’s your best piece of advice for someone in the position you were in 5 years ago?

The advice I’d give to someone in the position I was in 5 years ago would be to encourage them to ensure they choose a career path based on the subjects they enjoy the most. Having a solid foundation in the core subjects involved in a job is key to advancing your career.

When you’re not in the office or on site, what do you like getting up to?

Outside of my job I enjoy playing guitar, mountaineering and travelling.

If you could choose to do any other job in the world, what would it be and why?

If I didn’t have the opportunity to be a Quantity Surveyor and had the option of any job, I would have chosen to be an astronomer due to my interest in physics and space.

Interested in joining the Worksmart Family? View our recruitment page here. 

Benefits of a Fit-Out or Refurbishment to a College

For the past several years, Worksmart Contracts has enjoyed a mutually beneficial working relationship with Ayrshire’s largest educational institution: Ayrshire College. This affiliation has seen Worksmart carry out a variety of works at both the Ayr and Kilwinning Campuses. These projects have proved to be hugely advantageous to the College and Worksmart.

Heather Dunk OBE was Principal of Ayrshire College for five years before retiring in March, and oversaw the works being carried out by Worksmart Contracts. Her successor Carol Turnbull is the new Principal and Chief Executive of Ayrshire College. Worksmart Contracts is looking forward to continuing our mutually beneficial relationship.

Before stepping down, Heather Dunk OBE was kind enough to give us her time and shared some of her thoughts on carrying out a Fit Out or Refurbishment at a college. Below, we’ve outlined some of the key benefits outlined by the former Principal.

Selecting the Right Contractor

The first thing any College or University needs to consider when carrying out a Fit Out or Refurbishment project is the choice of contractor. It’s essential that a thorough and robust screening process is carried out and that the correct company are selected. Things to remember during the selection process is that you need a company who can not only be trusted and have an excellent reputation, but also one that can remain competitive on price.


The bulk of any Refurbishment or Fit Out within a College or University needs to be done during the summer months. This will allow the work to occur with minimal interference and for the students’ academic studies to go undisturbed.

With this being the case, it leaves a very tight window for a project to be undertaken. For Colleges and Universities, this means finding a contractor who can set accurate deadlines and are able to work within those timescales without delays.
Worksmart Contracts have a reputation of being able to deliver on-time, on-budget and to a very high standard. Because of this, we have been able to forge a successful relationship with Ayrshire College.

Benefits to the Students


Worksmart has created a new Hospitality and Tourism Suite, Early Years Education spaces and Health and Social Care spaces. These areas are able to replicate the real-world conditions students will face after graduation. Being able to accurately display what students will find in industry is hugely important for their education.

The creation of these new learning spaces is the best way to ensure students are receiving the best possible education during their time at Ayrshire College. By granting them these facilities, Ayrshire College are giving them a higher chance of succeeding in after graduation.

Student Experience

Providing modern and attractive learning and social spaces for students has a huge impact on morale and vigour. This can be especially difficult in older buildings that were developed in the 60s and 70s. This was the issue facing the Ayr and Kilwinning Campuses of Ayrshire College.

By undertaking a refurbishment of the highest standards, we were able to make these two campuses feel like new buildings that can rival brand new campuses. This leads to higher student morale, more inspired individuals and can spark a greater thirst for learning and achievement.


There is no greater learning experience for a student than getting hands-on in a real-world environment. By working with Ayrshire College, we regularly give students the opportunity to come on site visits and give them a glimpse into what the industry is really like.

Finding placements as a student can often be the difference between getting a job after graduating or not. Our partnership with Ayrshire College has led to several students being given placement opportunities, not just in the construction side, but also in the marketing and administration side of Worksmart Contracts. This type of experience can prove to be invaluable when it comes to seeking employment.

Another way that has proven to be hugely positive for both Worksmart and the industry as a whole has been our continued development of females getting into the Construction Industry.

Our first ever female joinery apprentice has been greatly involved in projects with Ayrshire College, engaging with students and helping to inspire and teach them about a potential career and opportunities in the industry.

Women in Construction

I attended the Scotland Build Expo at Glasgow SEC a few weeks ago and sat in on the Women in Construction panel discussion. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised by how busy the hub was, especially compared with the other workshops. The women on the panel were discussing the gender imbalance and inequality currently happening within construction. You don’t have to be a full-blown feminist to be offended by some of the stories that were being shared.

They were discussing how this feeling is represented by seemingly small and simple things such as attending a site and there being no female toilets. Likewise, it can be in the form of a meeting that you are supposed to be tendering, but which consists of your client directing his full attention and conversation towards your male counterpart, completely ignoring you in the process.

The audience were also encouraged to participate and share their own stories and experiences. There was one instance of a female property developer with a vision for a large area of land, but when it came to financing her project, the finance company she approached hummed and hawed before suggesting she use her husband’s name on the application, instead of her own. She rightly retorted by stating she certainly wouldn’t be using that finance company – now or in the future!
The discussion was focused on moving forward and supporting women by encouraging them to speak up and challenge things they don’t agree with, empowering them to ask questions and giving them the confidence to do so.

They all pointed out that the industry was getting better and they could all see positive changes, but also that these issues have not yet been eradicated completely. I was quite shocked listening to the stories being exchanged, especially in this day and age.

Thankfully, I have never personally experienced any form of sexism or noticed a gender imbalance within Worksmart Contracts and have always received the same treatment as my male colleagues. I was curious to find out if any of my peers had experienced any form of gender discrimination but I’m pleased to say none of my Worksmart colleagues had. In fact, they all reported that they had only ever felt encouraged and supported. I was really pleased to hear that, and it made me thankful to work within such an inclusive environment.

Unfortunately, it was a different story when chatting with other people at the Expo! One, a highly successful award-winning site manager, had experienced her fair share of gender imbalance and consistently felt as though she had to prove herself, even to her subordinates. While she admits her age may have played a part (she was only 25), she felt her gender was an issue on several occasions and held her back to begin with.

She had always worked within the construction industry, starting out in the building trade within a merchant as a sales advisor and gaining knowledge of several trades. When the store manager left, she had been hoping to be promoted, as she had already been doing the Deputy Manager’s role for a year. The position, however, was allocated to a male colleague with less experience than her and she felt it was because she was female.

As she completed her qualifications, she landed her first major role of Assistant Site Supervisor for a large commercial company building a new college. She had to deal with many male colleagues far less qualified than her, questioning her almost daily to begin with. On more than one occasion she had to dismiss male colleagues as they weren’t listening to her or following her instructions.

As time went on, she claims things calmed down and she steadily gained their respect. She had pointed out it seems to be a generational thing and that younger male colleagues were far more accepting, whereas it was with the older generation that there were more problems surrounding her gender.
This makes sense to me as with life in general, I feel older generations struggle with change and diversity, whereas the younger generations seem to take it in their stride far easier. It also makes me feel positive about the future for women in construction as people are moving with the times and far more accepting than ever before.

Another issue that was brought to the forefront was the general lack of women within construction. While it wasn’t explicitly said, the undertone was that this bias may be the reason. Personally, I don’t believe this is the case. I think a common misconception is that when you picture construction you see a digger and a construction site. I feel there needs to be more education surrounding all the various jobs within construction and making everyone aware of all the varied roles in the sector. I myself wasn’t aware until I had started with Worksmart and already in the industry!

While all the women I spoke with in construction are there because it interests them and it was something they had always wanted to pursue, these women are still within the minority. I don’t by any means want to force women into a career they don’t want to be in, but I would like it if construction was something more women were drawn to.

The question I came away with from the Expo was how exactly do we, as an industry, make construction more appealing to women?

Kellie Ann Lees

Another Giant Stride for Women in Construction

Worksmart Contracts’ Briony Aulton recently picked up the John Mather Trust Award. The joinery apprentice was given the award in recognition for her career achievements thus far and will aid the young apprentice in her career progression.

The John Mather Trust is a charitable organisation set up to benefit young people in the West of Scotland and allow them to gain a solid foothold in a wide range of careers. The Trust has already helped well over 3000 individuals and Briony is one of the latest beneficiaries.

The 27 year-old from Galston was accompanied by representatives from Worksmart Contracts to collect the award, which was presented to her at The Riverside Hotel in Irvine on 6th March. The awards ceremony took place during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, a nationwide campaign that celebrates apprentices in every industry and recognises the benefits they bring to the Scottish workforce and economy.

Worksmart are at the pioneering end of the movement to involve more women in the construction industry. Having started her apprenticeship last year, Briony represents a huge step in the right direction as Worksmart’s first ever female joinery apprentice.

Lisa Neilson, Worksmart’s owner and financial director has been involved in the campaign to include more women in fit-out, she said: “We are all incredibly proud of Briony for what she has achieved. It shows that we are moving in the right direction in terms of attracting more women into the industry and helping them to flourish. People like Briony are proving that women have what it takes to succeed in what is a traditionally male-dominated sector. She is a credit to herself and Worksmart Contracts.”

Worksmart take great pride in their local area and employ locally when possible, including with apprentices. Owner Steve Neilson added: “It’s wonderful to see one of our apprentices given such a prestigious award that has helped many people in the West of Scotland over the last two decades. Briony has been excellent since joining the Worksmart family and is helping to shatter any pre-conceived notions of gender stereotypes within the industry.”

Laying the Foundations

Gordon Bain is Worksmart’s Buyer, he is responsible for all procurement and supply chain requirements throughout the company. He sat down to look back on his life and career to date.

How was your school life? Were you a good/bad student? Did you do as well as you could have in terms of grades?

My school years were enjoyable, although I enjoyed Secondary School more than Primary. It’s difficult to say if I was good or a bad student. I kind of just got on with what I was supposed to do in school. Although when I was in first year, I did get the belt (2 hits) … yes, I’m that old! The reason for this I will keep to myself!

I don’t think I got the grades (O Levels) that I could have got. As it was difficult to study as the whole family – mum, dad, two younger brothers & a dog – lived in a room & kitchen in a tenement flat.

Did construction appeal to you when you were young?

To be honest no, when I was younger, I wanted to join the Army. But my mum wouldn’t sign the papers for me to join as I was only 16 at the time. My dad on the other hand had already signed his part of the authorising paper!

What were your next steps after high school?

With the Army avenue closed, I got a job on the YTS (Youth Training Scheme). This was doing bricklaying which sent me back to school again through college, as well as giving me onsite experience. It was when I was on site that I realised that I liked the environment and the camaraderie that came with it. Bearing in mind I was 16 years old and not long out of school.

After the YTS, I worked for Alpine Soft Drinks, delivering soft drinks to households. From there I went to work for Glasgow Council as a general labourer. From there I went into the Royal Navy which went okay to start with, then things changed, and I had to leave.

I then went to work for a builder’s merchant as a driver / labourer and then that’s when I really got interested in the building industry and I’ve now been in the industry since 1989.

At that point could you have imagined yourself in the position you are now?

Not really, I wanted to progress within the industry, but it was more to do with operations than commercial. At that time, I was looking to deal with the day to day running of a busy merchant i.e. arranging deliveries for the lorries, organising yard staff with certain tasks for that day, arranging suppliers’ deliveries into the yard etc.

What came before Worksmart professionally for you?

For almost 17 ½ years I worked for Morris and Spottiswood. I started off as an assistant buyer to the group buyer, then steadily progressed to senior buyer. In that role I looked after the spend for various Fitout projects varying in value from £20k to £3m. Then after a re-structure I was re-allocated to M&S Housing Dept, where I looked after various new build projects. Again, these ranged in value from £220k to £31m in what was the biggest Social Housing project in Glasgow around that time (circa 2007). I also looked after the buying of materials for the Framework with Glasgow City Council. This was part of their re-generation programme – roofing & rendering works.

When did you first hear about Worksmart and what were your initial thoughts?

The first time I heard of Worksmart was when I came for my first interview. My first impression was that it was a forward-looking company that was looking to progress to the next level. Also, the people that I first met came across in a very positive and enthusiastic manner.

If you could go back and give 16-year-old you any advice, what would it be?

If you ever make a mistake or fail, take it as a lesson learned and not as a negative. Everybody makes mistakes, it’s how you deal with that mistake and move on from it that matters.

Hiring Working Site Supervisors & Site Managers

Worksmart are looking for additional Working Site Supervisors & Site Managers to join and complement our existing Team. Working on Fast Track Interior Refurbishment & Fit Outs throughout Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayrshire and throughout Scotland.

Worksmart Contracts have a proven track record and pedigree in first class quality projects.

Apply only by emailing [email protected] and let us know why you would work well with the Worksmart Team and with the Worksmart Culture #makeitworksmart

Kilmarnock Football Club taking Rugby Park into the Top Division in Corporate Hospitality

After a fabulous season in which Kilmarnock FC were taken to new heights by Steve Clark, the Killie board have followed suit and continued their support and development of the Club. Part of these new plans involved the transformation of the existing Executive Club into the new Champions Lounge, as well as a new reception area and staircase, along with the Chairman’s Club and Boardroom. Concepts and plans were agreed with local architects Thomson Hunter Architects, and Worksmart Contracts LTD secured the contract to carry out the work.

With a history of local success in Interior Fit outs and refurbishment transformations, Worksmart were selected to take on the projects during the close season with tight commercial budgets and even tighter programme timescales.

From the beginning, Worksmart stated that for the works to be a success, there had to be a positive and engaging client, architect and contractor, something that was achieved from start to finish.

This was a fabulous project for the Worksmart Team to be involved in. The local apprentices, joiners, partnering sub-contractors and material suppliers all took up the challenge and worked successfully alongside the Kilmarnock Board of Directors, staff and architects, completely refurbishing all areas to an exceptionally high standard of corporate hospitality.

Thomson Hunters Architects Partner Andrew Hunter stated: “Thomson Hunter Architects have recently been involved in delivering a successful fit-out project at Kilmarnock Football Club for the new Chairman’s Club and Champions Lounge.  Worksmart Contracts were chosen as the preferred contractor to deliver this complex project within a limited timescale.  Their experience in this field set them apart from their competitors and gave both the client and ourselves confidence that they were the right team for the job.

Throughout this project and others working with Worksmart, Steven, Lisa and the team have provided a professional, proactive and diligent service. The finished images of the Kilmarnock Football Club project reflect the quality of workmanship that both Thomson Hunter Architects and Worksmart strive to deliver for every client.”

From the strip out to asbestos removal, to a brand new state of the art facility which provides a comfortable experience to new and existing members: this is an experience the likes of which Ayrshire has never seen before. Worksmart’s Managing Director Stevie Neilson stated: “It has been remarkable the comments and delight from existing and new members along with the visitors from other clubs on match days. Great to see the membership being used in full.”

The Kilmarnock Football Club Board stated: “Worksmart Contracts were appointed to undertake the major refurbishment of two of our hospitality lounges within the stadium of Kilmarnock Football Club. There was a requirement to complete the work within a two month period to coincide with the start of the new football season.

“Worksmart Contracts not only completed the refurbishment within the timescale allocated, the standard and quality of their work was exemplary. Throughout the process, communication was excellent and any matters which arose were dealt with timeously.

“We were impressed by the professionalism of the team throughout the process and would have no hesitation in appointing Worksmart Contracts in the future.”

“Thomson Hunter Architects have recently been involved in delivering a successful fit-out project at Kilmarnock Football Club for the new Chairman’s Club and Champions Lounge. Worksmart Contracts were chosen as the preferred contractor to deliver this complex project within a limited timescale. Their experience in this field set them apart from their competitors and gave both the client and ourselves confidence that they were the right team for the job.

Throughout this project and others working with Worksmart, Steven, Lisa and the team have provided a professional, proactive and diligent service.

The finished images of the Kilmarnock Football Club project reflect the quality of workmanship that both Thomson Hunter Architects and Worksmart strive to deliver for every client.​”

– Thomson Hunter Architects

Click here to view the full Case Study.

#makeitworksmart #FitOutTop500 #WeAreKillie

Thanks to Professional Photography by Guy Hinks Photography

Check out our brand new project with Ayrshire College

For the second summer in a row, Worksmart Contracts have successfully completed an impressive development and refurbishment project for Ayrshire College.

The works at the Dam Park Building on Ayr Campus involved the full refurbishment of the existing first floor teaching areas, corridors and link corridor; forming new staff base areas, teaching rooms and new care suite.

The refurbishment works included stripping out the existing suspended ceilings, block walls, timber partitions, existing timber doors and frames as well as all existing electrical wiring and distribution boards.

Among a myriad of redevelopments that took place during the project were: the modification of the first floor heating system, formation of new metal stud partitions to suit the new layout drawings and formed new opening within the corridor to allow rooms to be formed

Each and every room now has a new suspending ceilings grid and tiles, as well as a brand new lighting system throughout the building. Rooms and corridors have been fully decorated and new floor coverings have been fitted throughout, complementing the new areas and giving it a more open and brighter look.

Ayrshire College’s Capital Projects Manager Janice Steel stated: “Worksmart Contracts Ltd successfully won tenders for Summer Works 2017 and 2018 at both Ayr and Kilwinning Campus for Ayrshire College.

“Worksmart have recently completed the Summer 2018 works which comprised the refurbishment of our new Health, Social and Child Care Suite which includes a simulated nursery, simulated hospital ward and numerous learning and teaching spaces; a new Music Technology Suite including 3 sound proof rehearsal rooms and a teaching room and staff work base.”

Works were also carried out on the ground floor, with all the doors, frames and architraves being removed and replaced with new Oak veneer doors sets. Once completed, the existing corridors were decorated to match the design finishing of the first floor.

The new door installation on the first and ground floors was also an opportunity for the Worksmart team to demonstrate the new Fire Door Inspection Services, which was formed a few months ago to assist clients and ensure there are fulfilling their legal obligations with regard to fire safety.

The installation of all new fire doors to comply with the regulations for public and commercial buildings will help to give the client peace of mind. Mark McQuade is the holder of a Diploma in Fire Door Inspection, and he heads Worksmart’s Inspection Service.

Janice Steel added: “All projects were completed on time, within budget and the College were delighted with the quality of workmanship.”

Click here to see our recently completed case study on the project.


The FIS Women in fit-out sector has been formed to help bring greater recognition to a crucial part of the construction team and to encourage women to enter the sector.
Its aims are to:

• Raise the profile of women in the industry and highlight their successes.
• Inspire the next generation of women to join the fit-out sector.
• Provide a forum for individuals to come together to meet others in similar roles, to network, share ideas and experience and to develop business relationships.

The forum seeks to address the industry’s appalling record of attracting and employing women. Only 14% of the construction workforce is female and less than 1% are working on building sites, a record which places it behind many other key industries.

It’s often the culture that prevents women from working in this industry or stops woman working up through the ranks, with the sector being very male dominated; particularly by older men. It’s necessary that we introduce more diversity to the sector and address the current demographic imbalance. Ensuring more women are being introduced to the industry is crucial.

The industry is not just about building, it involves lots of technical and specific jobs that are suitable for both sexes. The present situation requires a huge change in mindset, both in the people at the top of organisations and those on site.

At the moment, there are no real good female role models who have made it in the industry. There is also a feeling that for women to fit in and be successful in this industry, they are required to be rougher and more demanding; namely more ‘male-like’.

However, women should be allowed to remain feminine and be themselves, without fear of it jeopardising their careers.

At Worksmart, we are committed to this cause, and have recently taken on our first female apprentice. Briony Aulton has joined the Worksmart family as an apprentice joiner, and we hope she will be the first of many more women picking up the tools and donning a hard hat for Worksmart in the coming years!
We look forward to impacting the sector in a positive manner and supporting more women to achieve their goals within the industry.

For more information:
Twitter @womeninfit_out

Worksmart increase their support at Kilmarnock Football Club

Following an outstanding season for both Kilmarnock Football Club and Worksmart Contracts Ltd, Worksmart have increased their support of Kilmarnock Football Club with both Season Tickets and Corporate Signage advertising Worksmart further to the Ayrshire Business Community. Pictured with the legendary Ray Montgomerie of Kilmarnock Football Club and former Killie Captain of the league winning side of `97 are Worksmarts FD Lisa Neilson and MD Steve Neilson below the new vast signage installed to the gable end of the Main Stand and in full view of everyone visiting Rugby Park for the games and attending the Park Hotel. The prominent position is beside Ayrshires highly successful QTS and Worksmart and very proud to be associated with the Club.

Over the years our support has grown and developed for the club from our small sign in the main car park neighbouring our friends at Billy Bowie Special Projects, Solutions on Demand and Seesaw Creative.

Steve Neilson Worksmarts MD said “We are delighted to have increased our support for Kilmarnock Football Club and we continue to enjoy both the quality of football and community at Rugby Park along with the increased level of Interior Fit-Out and Refurbishment works in the Ayrshire market which we have been working closely with many successful local Businesses.”

Worksmart have also enjoyed the success in securing the Interior Fit-Out and Refurbishment of the famous Chairman’s Suite along with the Executive Suite, Toilets and the main Reception in the summer break at the Club and have enjoyed working with the Killie Board and staff along with Architects Thomson Hunter Architects which will be completed shortly and in use for this season. Kilmarnock Football Club have seen the opportunity in bringing these facilities into line with what the top clubs in Scotland and the UK have on offer and Worksmart are very proud to have been the contractor who will deliver these stunning interiors. More coverage of this will certainly follow on the finished results in due course.

Lisa Neilson Worksmarts FD added “There has been a noticeable buzz around the town with the success of the team in last years season and we are looking forward to this season and supporting the Club and the Team, both the community and local business have benefitted. Worksmart have a long standing history of supporting youth and sport in our Community Benefits and Social Responsibilities in our Ayrshire and Edinburgh area offices which we love doing and will continue to do so.

We wish Killie every success this year and we look forward to continuing our support of the Club and supporting them in future Interior Fit-Out and Refurbishment Projects in years to come”