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Thu April 02 2020

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Scotland gets £6m construction skills boost

27 Jan Over 2,000 people in south east Scotland are set to benefit from the first wave of support from a £6m skills and career programme.

 Zarja Krevelj is a student studying architectural technology at Napier University as part of HCI's BeX programme
Zarja Krevelj is a student studying architectural technology at Napier University as part of HCI's BeX programme

The skills and career support from the new Housing, Construction & Infrastructure (HCI) Skills Gateway will provide multi-level support to schools, new entrants to the sector and the existing workforce.

The scheme, which is supported by the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and funded by Scottish government, is worth £6m over the next seven years.

The HCI Skills Gateway includes a range of short courses in renewable energy for homes, installing electric vehicle charging points, highways and roads infrastructure, environmental technologies and engagement with school pupils.

According to the UK government Foresight report on future cities, south east Scotland is the fastest-growing region in Scotland and fifth fastest in the UK. An anticipated 145,000 new homes are set to be built over the next two decades, marking a 40% increase in new housing supply compared with the 20 years prior to the recession.

The HCI Skills Gateway is being delivered by the region’s universities and colleges. Professor Sean Smith of Edinburgh Napier University, who leads the HCI Skills Gateway, said: “This is the start of a step change in support across the region to enable and support our future workforce and net-zero ambitions. This inclusive growth support will provide an attractive route into future job opportunities and career pathways and we are particularly keen to support unemployed entering this sector, attracting more women into construction and engineering and supporting existing employees with new skills.”

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Napier’s Institute for Sustainable Construction has forecast a construction skills supply shortage of over 3,500 in south east Scotland in the coming years. The HCI Skills Gateway aims to help reduce the gap.

The HCI advanced skills pathway also includes the Built Environment Exchange (BeX), which is undertaken in partnership with industry and Saltire scholarships. This provides an accelerated knowledge path and involves students working with industry innovation projects.

Scottish government cabinet secretary for infrastructure Michael Matheson said: “The Scottish Government’s £300m investment to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal includes a £25m commitment to improving skills within the region. I’m delighted to see that the HCI skills gateway is set to benefit thousands of people in the years to come, helping to create the expertise that we need in the housing, construction and infrastructure sectors in order to achieve a sustainable, carbon-free future for Scotland. 

“This is further demonstration of the wide-sweeping benefits of City Deals and Growth Deals, which the Scottish Government has now committed more than £1.8 billion to, including our additional investment.”

In addition to the new skills and jobs pathways, the region also needs an increased supply in site trades including bricklayers, joiners, electricians and plumbers. Much of the HCI wave 1 support will be provided through further education partners including Edinburgh, West Lothian, Fife and Scottish Borders colleges working in collaboration with industry and public sector.

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