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Rising to the Challenge

School pupils shine as they compete in the final of this year’s CABEC contest

I was delighted to be at the final of this year’s Construction and Built Environment Challenge and see so many talented school pupils.

The annual contest sees groups of youngsters take on a series of tasks and aims to inspire them about the wide range of exciting careers in the sector.

All schools across Edinburgh and the Lothians are invited to put forward a team of S2 pupils – aged 13 to 14 – to compete in the contest.

The top 100 students made it through to the final at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange on 16 January where James Gillespie’s High lifted the top prize.

Second place went to Linlithgow Academy – who won the challenge last year – with St David’s High in Dalkeith taking the third spot.

Each team was awarded gift vouchers and every winning school received a cheque for their craft, design and technology department. Overall winner James Gillespie’s was also presented with a large trophy.

Edinburgh councillor Neil Gardiner was at the final and Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, was able to attend once again and present the prizes. He said: “I was delighted to be asked back to this year’s finals of the Construction and Built Environment Challenge.

“It was great to meet a really diverse group of boys and girls and a pleasure to see them approach the challenges with enthusiasm and zest.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to SECTT and to all the colleges and universities taking part.

“I would also like to extend my congratulations to the teachers in all participating schools who do so well to show their pupils the rewarding career opportunities available to them in engineering and construction.”

The contest has been running every year since 1999. Local college and university staff and training providers devise and run a series of construction, engineering and building services challenges.

Each team is marked by the lecturers on a number of criteria, including teamwork, understanding and carrying out instructions, working safely and completing the tasks.

Esme Anderson, from winners James Gillespie’s, said “CABEC is an excellent opportunity for students to experience construction and engineering challenges. We’ve found it encourages students to further study Design and Technology subjects and they so enjoy the practical challenges of the day, which are totally outside their normal experience.

Winning CABEC has boosted the confidence of these young people and highlighted their interest in the industry.

“I am especially proud to have seen their teamwork and communication, which are vital no matter what path they chose for their future. Thank you again for a brilliant day!”

My role is to manage the CABEC competition and source sponsorship to ensure that we can continue this great event which has been inspiring pupils for the past 20 years.

A total of 300 pupils took part in a series of heats before the final. This year there was a feeling of real excitement on the big day. All the teams were very enthusiastic upon arrival and this carried on throughout the day.

The talented students all performed very well and the feedback from the challenge providers was positive and highlighted the excellent teamwork.

I found the pupils to be most engaging and interested in all in the challenges.

We are so fortunate to have a fantastic group of challenge providers who are delighted to share their knowledge and expertise with the pupils and teachers.

Challenge Providers

  • Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT)

  • Edinburgh College

  • SRUC Oatridge Campus

  • West Lothian College

  • Napier University

  • Heriot-Watt University


  • Electrical Education Training Foundation (EETF)


  • CITB

  • Edinburgh City Council

  • Edinburgh College


  • Unite the Union


For further information about SECTT and CABEC, call 0131 445 5659, visit or email

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