A group of long-term unemployed Perth men have been given a foot up the jobs ladder by the company handling the £1.5 million Mill Street makeover.
Kilmac Construction have joined with Perth and Kinross Council and The Hub in South Street to give the group hands-on work experience as the city’s eagerly awaited “cultural quarter” begins to take shape.
The local authority grant aided employability scheme is designed to provide a stepping stone into regular work and managing director Athole McDonald is keen to bolster his local workforce.
“When we won the Mill Street contract we decided to take on five men initially suggested by the council, with scope for more during the second phase around Perth Theatre,” he said.
“Initially they committed to a two-week trial and now they are working on-site with foreman Derek Riddoch handling the mentoring role and every Wednesday they are seconded for training specific to the demands of a construction site.
“When the 12 weeks are up we are keen to add them to the Kilmac team. A similar scheme we ran with the council in Dundee proved successful. We took on three full-time and one of the guys is now a trainee engineer. It has proved a life-changing experience for him.
“Hopefully the five we have taken on as part of the Mill Street project will seize the opportunity given to them. As a company we are keen to continue our expansion programme and this scheme gives long-term unemployed a foot in the door.
“The opportunity is certainly there and now it is up to them to embrace it over the next few weeks.”
Kilmac’s decision to contrast the old with the new in Mill Street has struck a chord with passers-by and shoppers enjoying a trip back down memory lane.
The construction company accessed black and white photographs from the Perth Museum collection dating back to 1932 and 1974.
“We have blown them up to make a feature barrier wall outside our site office,” said Mr McDonald.
“One photo captures workmen digging up Mill Street more than 80 years ago and people are intrigued by the cars in the picture from the 70s.
“It also gives us a chance to flag-up the image of what Mill Street will look like when the project is complete.”