Accelerating “green jobs” in construction requires training commitment

Dr Kenneth Leitch

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A REPORT commissioned by Housing, Construction & Infrastructure (HCI) Skills Gateway has highlighted that training is the number one barrier to achieving net zero across the construction sector.

With increasing momentum to tackle the climate crisis, HCI commissioned the Circular Edinburgh team from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to work with a range of industry partners to discover what support would most benefit the construction sector as Scotland transitions to net zero.

Over 150 companies were contacted over a four-month period to assess their current activities in additional training, how they are building green skills within their workforce and – crucially – working to identify competency gaps.

As a result of the study, HCI has committed to delivering five key actions:

  • Increase access to retrofit training, starting with free courses for the region’s housing professionals delivered via the Built Environment – Smarter Transformation BE-ST, formerly Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.
  • Deliver courses in new building techniques and emerging technologies across the region’s further education colleges.
  • Map current sustainability accreditations and identify gaps and new training required.
  • Translate offsetting and audit academic research into practical carbon accounting tools relevant to industry in South East Scotland.
  • Inspire more young people into sustainable construction careers by funding partnerships like Daydream Believers and the Edinburgh Science Festival.

Dr Kenneth Leitch, Head of Civil, Transportation and Environmental Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University and Project Lead at HCI Skills Gateway said: “The idea of ‘green jobs’ in construction is a misnomer – everyone who works or enters work in housing, construction and infrastructure needs to be skilled in decarbonising our built environment, whatever their role.”

“It is expected that the Scottish construction industry will need 22,500 new roles by 2028. These will be a mix of new skilled jobs, increased efficiencies in existing roles, and roles focussing on decarbonisation innovation.” 

“HCI is currently funded until 2025, and so we intend to put our five priority actions into motion in the next three years. This will ensure we are providing access to the skills and training needed to fill these new roles, and for on-the-ground delivery across the region to help our nation achieve its net zero ambitions.”

Mayan Grace, Director of Projects at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said: “Working on this project provided an opportunity to engage with businesses on one of the most pressing issues we face today, and gather their first-hand experiences on the skills gap around sustainability within the sector. We found the overwhelming theme was that more training is essential to equip the workforce with the skills they need.”

“We were encouraged by business and the education sector’s ongoing willingness to work in collaboration, but to achieve this we need to ensure that it led by a joined-up approach. Only through strong partnerships between academia and business can we produce successful outcomes which allow us to achieve a sustainable future for the sector.”  

Launched in 2019, HCI Skills Gateway is a £6m investment from the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal, tasked with building inclusive and sustainable construction careers for all across the region.

Find the full report here: https://bit.ly/3awFa9u

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