NFRC marks ten years of traditional skills workshops in Scotland

NFRC Scotland is celebrating ten years of promoting traditional skills and roofing careers.

In recent weeks, the organisation has taken part in the Edinburgh Traditional Building Festival with traditional skills demonstrations.

Back in 2012, NFRC took part in the first construction skills demonstration event at Edinburgh Castle, as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week. Over the past ten years, the aim has been to build a ‘sustainable model’ for introducing young people to roofing skills, working with a variety of stakeholders throughout the supply chain.

NFRC said Scotland’s traditional buildings will all require a level of maintenance at some point in time. These skills demonstration events help to highlight the opportunities in construction, including roofing, to young people, so that they can make an informed choice on their careers and help ensure the future of the nation’s heritage.

Since 2012, the construction skills programme has evolved. The pandemic, when no in-person events could take place, prompted the development of online content, which has helped reach a larger audience than previously possible.

Now that in-person events are back, and just within 2022 so far, the NFRC said the geographical reach of the programme has been ‘amazing’, with traditional skills events taking place from Lochgilphead to Jedburgh.

Working with Build Your Future and Developing the Young Workforce, a programme is now being delivered within schools to highlight the construction sector opportunities. Pupils can understand career prospects through online content being shown in class, and if they choose to, they can then attend the hands-on events.

One success story highlighted by NFRC came from working with the City of Edinburgh Council to support the delivery of a pilot programme, through Build Your Future’s Repurposing Challenge, and sharing the online content in three schools. The content was so well received that the local authority is now rolling out the programme across schools in Edinburgh next year.

NFRC hopes to work with public bodies to create the capacity to help deliver this across every high school in Scotland.

Scott Miller, chair of NFRC Scotland, said, “It’s been great to get back to delivering these skills events to help the young people with their career choices. NFRC has been working with City of Edinburgh Council, Developing the Young Workforce and other industry representatives to raise the profile of the variety of careers within the construction industry and is looking forward to making a positive impact on the skills shortage within the sector to ensure that Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site can be maintained for future generations to enjoy.”

Councillor Mandy Watt, finance and resources convener and depute leader at the City of Edinburgh Council, added, “Ensuring school leavers are supported into secure, well-paid employment has never been more important. The after-effects of the pandemic and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis mean that many of our young people are facing unprecedented challenges.

“I very much welcome this partnership working between NFRC and the City of Edinburgh Council, which is giving young people the opportunity to learn about the traditional construction skills needed to maintain Edinburgh’s world famous historic buildings. They are being encouraged to consider careers that include these skills by an online programme being delivered in schools across Edinburgh, following a very successful pilot.

“As NFRC celebrates 10 years of delivering skills workshops and promoting construction apprenticeships, it’s great that they’re putting their experience and enthusiasm into this programme.”