By Michael Ross, chief executive of hub South West Scotland
AS Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2023 comes to a close, our work in devising ways to attract talented youngsters into the built environment must continue.
According to the Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, Scotland will need 19,550 additional workers entering the industry by 2027 (3,910 entrants annually) to keep pace with housebuilding, infrastructure and repair and maintenance programmes.
However, with many of the current workforce set to retire over the next 10-15 years (CITB estimate 500,000 UK-wide) it is vital that we not only find ways of replacing these workers, but that we equip new entrants with the right skills and training to enable them to deliver a built environment that encapsulates new methods of working; methods that promote a net zero future by embracing modern methods of construction, digital technology and green energy.
Already supporting 230,000 jobs and contributing over £15 billion of output each year to the Scottish economy, the importance of construction cannot be overstated – the homes we live in, our roads, community services such as schools and hospitals all depend on good construction. Finding ways to demonstrate to young people that the sector offers them the opportunity to acquire new skills, formal qualifications, good pay and importantly a life-long, rewarding career is therefore a top priority. We share this focus with our construction partners, design and professional services teams and together we work together to promote the industry.
Apprenticeships provide a major route into the industry and construction accounts for a third of all modern apprentices in training. In this regard, at hub South West, we tender projects to maximise apprenticeship opportunities and track performance against the commitments made. We also tender works to keep the money spent on projects in the local area and we see this as key in enabling companies to employ local people.
We have formed partnerships with local education departments, local colleges and Developing Young Workforce teams and via a regional focus we are able to look at our outputs and tie these into the local employment landscape. We have the vision to adapt our tendering criteria as to match a programme of engagement with our partners.
Working with our construction partners to engage with them, we offer curriculum support activities, career talks, mentoring, work placement training and apprenticeship opportunities along with STEM-related education and apprenticeship programmes.
Importantly, the partnership platform that hub South West Scotland has created enables us to help create more employment and career opportunities for people right on their doorstep.
These are important measures in ensuring we deliver on our core values and support young people in the built environment. They also facilitate a route for the industry to help training providers shape and align the curriculum content and planning to meet future skills needs.
Via a dedicated team within hub South West who work on our skills model and via the numerous partnerships we have, hub South West provides a platform to help secure apprenticeship opportunities. To date we have created: 633 apprenticeships; facilitated 514 education school events; and delivered 509 work experience placements.
To date hub South West has delivered over 90 projects across Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway worth over £740 million, and we have a healthy pipeline of new projects coming on stream this year — current projects on site are worth £220 million, with a further £250 million in development.
Against this backdrop the future is bright for young people entering the industry and I am determined to ensure the young people of the south west of Scotland benefit from these projects.