College helps to boost inclusive construction and engineering skills supply

Edinburgh College is supporting a new skills programme aimed at ensuring the region’s construction workforce is fit for the future.

The Housing, Construction and Infrastructure (HCI) Skills Gateway, which is supported by the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, is set to provide multi-level support to schools, new entrants to the sector and upskill the existing workforce.

The HCI Skills Gateway includes an exciting and diverse range of short work-ready 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. With an anticipated 145,000 new homes to be built over the next two decades, it marks 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, including Edinburgh College.

HCI Skills Gateway lead and Edinburgh Napier University professor, Sean Smith 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”.

Edinburgh 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 this gap and support inclusive growth for people across the region.

Edinburgh College head of Engineering and Built Environment Scott Warden said: “Edinburgh College in partnership and supported by City Region Deal, is committed to supporting and increasing opportunities for all by delivering new and innovative construction programmes to address the regional skills shortage and creating a pipeline of work-ready candidates”.  

CEO of Fife Council and Chairs of the City Region Deal’s Integrated Regional Employability and Skills Board, Steve Grimmond said: “The HCI project demonstrates the regional reach for both urban and rural areas of this City Region Deal. This is one of seven flagship projects to support inclusive communities and regional growth and it is positive, given our sustainable development ambitions, that so many of these work-ready courses are aligned to our future low carbon infrastructure”.

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.

More information on the College’s role in delivering projects will be available in the coming weeks.