Construction academy launches in Edinburgh to prepare youngsters for careers in sector

Skills Academy partners (L to R) Ryan Deighan, Edinburgh College; Scott Miller, National Federation of Roofing Contractors; Mollie Kerr, City of Edinburgh Council; Stephen Monaghan, Stantec; Susie Higgins, DYW; Jennifer Melvin, Mitie; and Julie McCormack, City of Edinburgh Council

THE City of Edinburgh Council has launched a new skills academy to prepare young people for a career in the construction industry.

It comes as the local authority looks to address skills shortages in the sector – both within traditional construction trades and also within professional and back office roles.

Skanska and Mitie, which have both recently been awarded 10-year statutory inspections, repairs, and maintenance contracts for council buildings, had committed their support to the new academy.

Both firms will be joined in the development of the academy’s model by Edinburgh College, Developing the Young Workforce, Historic Environment Scotland. With the local authority revealing that it has plans to work ‘closely’ with pupils from as early as primary school to provide insights into construction.

To celebrate the launch of the academy a special skills demonstration’ – hosted by Edinburgh College – is taking place in the City Chambers quadrangle today, with around 100 pupils being invited.

Paul Lawrence, executive director place at the City of Edinburgh Council, said, “No one can underestimate the impact the pandemic has had on young people in the past two years when it comes to equipping them with the skills for when they leave school. It’s important as a council that we do everything we can to support them and setting up the skills academy is a really exciting project.

“There are a variety of roles within construction outwith the traditional trade apprenticeships that people may not be aware of. We want to encourage more of our young people to explore these fantastic opportunities and provide them with the skills and experience to secure employment. The skills academy is a great example of the partnership approach we use to drive forward many projects across the city.

“I’m delighted that so many organisations have teamed up with us and this couldn’t be achieved without the support and input from DYW, Edinburgh College, Skanska and Mitie and Historic Environment Scotland. The unique buildings within Edinburgh need to be protected and maintained for future generations to enjoy and the academy aims to address the decline in traditional skills and jobs available within the industry.”

Senior general manager at Skanska, Stephen Monaghan, added, “Succession, competence and technical ability are all core factors that underpin our business at Skanska. We are delighted to be involved in this skills demonstration workshop offering our future tradespeople the early opportunity to gain an insight into what is involved in these particular trades. We think it’s really important to give people the opportunity to enhance their future skills.”

Jennifer Melvin, community benefits co-ordinator at Mitie, commented, “Myself and Mitie are thrilled to be part of this traditional skills demonstrations in collaboration with DYW’s ‘Build Your Future’. Young people are expected to know what they want to do with their lives through their school choices and after leaving school without any experience of industry. Build your future is aiming to change this by providing insight that will support them to make informed decisions, which is certainly a step in the right direction.”

The City of Edinburgh Council said it is anticipated the skills academy will be fully operational by 2024.