Edinburgh launches construction skills academy

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

Skanska and Mitie have recently been 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. 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 outwith 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.

“The Skills Academy is a great example of the partnership approach we use to drive forward many projects across the city. I’m delighted that so many organisations have teamed up with us and this couldn’t be achieved without the support and input from DYW, Edinburgh College, Skanska and Mitie and Historic Environment Scotland. The unique buildings within Edinburgh need to be protected and maintained for future generations to enjoy and the Academy aims to address the decline in traditional skills and jobs available within the industry.”

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

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