Since late 2017, funding and support has been provided by Morrison Construction for students to gain qualifications at the Scottish Lime Centre Trust (SLCT) in Dunfermline as part of six-month and one-day masonry courses through Ayrshire College.
The courses were designed after South Ayrshire Council approached Ayrshire College about a project to restore the Belleisle Park walled garden involving students.
In June, the third class of 14 students completed the full-time Introduction of Masonry Repair Course after six months of study.
To successfully finish the course students earned a Scottish Qualification Association (SQA) recognised Conservation of Masonry through study at SLCT before being assessed on the traditional skills including lime mortar repair.
A further 48 students have attended a one-day Lime Pointing course held at the SLCT and were then able to assist with the restoration efforts.
After the success of the courses, all of which had high retention and attendance rates, Ayrshire College is developing a new year-long masonry course.
Community Skills Manager Caitlin Quinn, said: ‘‘We are proud this initiative with Ayrshire College and South Ayrshire College has led to more than 80 students gaining skills and qualifications over the past 18 months positively impacting on their future careers.
‘‘The students who completed this course have created their own legacy by restoring this beautiful eighteenth-century walled garden for their community.
‘‘It was fantastic to learn some students who have completed the six-month course are pursuing careers in this trade or have secured a stonemason apprenticeship.’’
Cameron Bell, Head of Construction Technology, Trades, Motor Vehicle and Horticulture at Ayrshire College, said: "Ayrshire College is always very keen to assist with Construction projects that will be of benefit to the local community and to our students.
"When the College was approached by South Ayrshire Council about the work at Belleisle Park, we understood that the size of the project would require us to create a brand new course, where students would gain a qualification in this area. This would not have been possible without the backing of Morrison Construction.
"Our partnership with South Ayrshire Council and Morrison Construction has proved to be an incredible success, as evidenced by the fact that so many students have gained SQA qualifications and moved into employment."