Edinburgh looks to bridge skills gap with new construction academy

Edinburgh City Council is teaming up with Skanska and Mitie to launch a skills academy to prepare young people for careers in construction.

Skanska and Mitie were recently awarded a 10-year statutory inspections, repairs, and maintenance contract for operational buildings with the Council, and have committed to creating a collaborative skills academy.

Development and shaping of the model is being supported by partners Edinburgh College, Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), Historic Environment Scotland, Skanska and Mitie and is being led by the council.

It is anticipated the Skills Academy will be fully operational by 2024.

The academy is being set up to address skills shortages in the construction industry both within traditional construction trades but also within professional and back office roles.

It also aims to encourage a more diverse and inclusive workforce by starting to work closely with pupils from as early as primary school to provide insights into construction.

To celebrate the launch of the Academy a ‘skills demonstration’ – hosted by Edinburgh College – has been taking place this week in the City Chambers quadrangle.

Bridging the skills gap

Around 100 pupils from four secondary schools have attended over the two days and taking part in trying five key construction skills – painting and decorating, joinery, slating, stone masonry, and thermal imaging.

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 beyond 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.”

Stephen Monaghan, Skanska senior general manager, said: “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, added: “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.”

Image: Pupils from Edinburgh secondary schools have been trying key construction skills this week


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