Homes that don't cost the earth: a consultation on Scotland's Sustainable Housing Strategy

This consultation paper sets out our vision for a housing sector that helps to establish a successful low carbon economy across Scotland.

Chapter 5: Skills and Training

The outcome we want to see:

We want Scottish workers to have the skills and training necessary to enable Scottish companies to take advantage of the opportunities offered in building new sustainable homes, upgrading existing homes, and in developing export markets.

Why is this important?

5.1 Making all Scotland's homes energy efficient has the potential to create many jobs in the years to 2030 - in building new homes, upgrading existing ones, installing domestic renewable technologies and developing export markets for these products. However, we will only be able to take advantage of these opportunities with a skilled and adaptable workforce. There is an emerging low carbon built environment, defined by the Building Research Establishment as 'the range of products and services which have the potential to reduce the carbon emissions from a building during its operational lifetime'. It is estimated that jobs in the low carbon sector in Scotland could grow by 4% a year to 2020, rising from 70,000 to 130,000. This would represent 5% of the Scottish workforce. [49] Research by the Energy Saving Trust for WWF Scotland estimated that upgrading all homes to a minimum EPC level of D would support around 9,900 jobs [50] . Providing the right training opportunities will be essential to enable Scottish companies to take advantage of the emerging low carbon economy.

5.2 Examples of the opportunities on offer include:

  • New Build - there will be increased demand for workers with specific skills in modern methods of construction. Both in the manufacturing processes - building and module design, running and maintaining the automated assembly - and in the on-site skills needed to construct dwellings;
  • Retrofitting existing houses - there will be a requirement for multi-skilling in the medium term to minimise household disruption and costs and link installation of energy efficiency measures with repair work;
  • Working with traditional buildings - the significant proportion of older buildings in the national housing stock implies a continuing need for specialist skills - the objectives here, which Historic Scotland is supporting, will be to ensure the construction sector has the knowledge to assess the need for specialised skills and that those skills continue to be available and can be accessed swiftly when required;
  • Standards - trained assessors and inspectors may be required to ensure that any regulatory standards (see chapter 2) are met.

5.3 As well as the domestic market there is considerable export market potential for products designed, manufactured and assembled in Scotland. In 2008-09 Scotland exported £117 million in building technologies including windows to the value of £44 million and insulation worth £35 million. [51] Significant growth is forecast for this sector, even in recessionary times, from £13,526 million in 2008/09 to £19,234 million in 2015-16, equivalent to an overall compound growth rate of 42 per cent across the UK [52] . This will provide a good baseline for measuring the potential growth of the industry.

Box 12: Case Study - CCG ( OSM) Ltd

CCG has established a bespoke, state of the art production line to manufacture closed panel timber frame buildings to a wide variety of designs and specifications. Their 100,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in Glasgow was opened in late 2009 and uses a semi-automated German production line delivered by a team of 30 multiskilled operatives. The facility is unique within Scotland and only one of a handful within the UK.

The offsite products fall within an 'iQ system' brand, encompassing wall, floor and roof cassette panels, manufactured within a strict quality controlled environment, to consistently achieve high performance buildings. The offsite installation can include: doors and windows; insulation; electrical/plumbing/ventilation services; internal lining boards and external lightweight claddings.

The processes are highly technical and need a skilled workforce to manage them. To ensure all the operatives know exactly what they are doing and to understand the production process, regular "toolbox talks" are given to the operatives. Additional talks are given when new or different materials or fixings are being used or if difficulties or faults have occurred. The CCG group have over 600 directly employed members of staff and currently have 65 apprenticeship training places.

Main challenges to address

5.4 The main challenge to address is to ensure the construction industry and other sectors relevant to this strategy have the confidence to invest fully in training. Recently, sections of the low carbon economy have lost trust in UK Government incentives after the "boom and bust" associated with the Feed-in-Tariff ( FIT) for solar PV projects. Companies may be reluctant to engage with other schemes in case they are withdrawn or changed at short notice. Similarly the building industry may be reluctant to train workers when the new build market is stagnant unless they see a clear opportunity for growth. Stable economic and financial conditions are needed to encourage a steady expansion of jobs and the training of workers.

5.5 Other challenges include:

  • Some in the industry perceive there is a lack of training provision and of training facilities and equipment.
  • Training syllabuses need to be designed to address the particular needs of the industry taking account of the latest technologies. Good working relationships must be developed between the training providers, including colleges and industry, to be responsive to current and future industry needs.
  • Increasing the rate of retrofit may require an approach that is made more attractive to consumers through multi-skilled operatives who are trained and competent to carry out a range of tasks including electrical, plumbing and mechanical services as well as general building skills. Being multi-skilled ensures this work can be done quickly and efficiently - and therefore at a lower cost - as well as minimising disruption to the occupier. There is also potential to link work to install energy efficiency with repair or improvement works as a package for the consumer. The type of overarching qualification that would support this kind of approach is not currently available.
  • There is always the risk that in an upturn there will not be enough people willing to enter the construction industry, due to its instability. At a time of growth there might be difficulties from a lack of skills, or outdated skills or people in the wrong location.
  • The industry continues to be seen as less attractive to some groups of people, for example, women - who are currently under-represented in this field.

Actions to address these challenges

5.6 The long term nature of Scotland's climate change targets, together with commitments to consider further enhancements to building standards and the development of this Sustainable Housing Strategy looking forward to 2030 are all indications of how the Scottish Government is providing long term leadership on the low carbon agenda. This should help to ensure the construction industry recognises the long term direction of travel and is able to contribute to, and plan for this, including in respect of skills and training provision.

5.7 There is a wide range of training currently available from a number of different providers both in the public and private sectors. Skills Development Scotland is the Scottish Government's training agency providing National Training Programmes (Modern Apprenticeships, Get Ready for Work, Training for Work, Flexible Training Opportunities, Low Carbon Skills Fund, Employer Recruitment Incentive). There is also Further and Higher education provision; the Sector Skills Council support; and private sector training provision.

5.8 In 2010-11 there were over 2,000 Modern Apprenticeship starts in the construction industry. The Scottish Government's National Training Programmes, delivered by Skills Development Scotland, commits to 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship in each year of this parliamentary term, at least 500 of which will be in Energy and Low Carbon industries. Skills Development Scotland will also deliver at least an additional 1,000 flexible training places in energy and low carbon in 2012-13. Courses and qualifications are also available through Further and Higher Education provision - currently being reviewed under the programme of Post 16 Reforms.

5.9 There are also possible opportunities to ensure that young people, and in particular those who have disengaged or are at risk of disengagement from the labour market, can benefit from the scale of activity that should take place. For example, the WISE Group and Shelter Scotland, and also some housing associations have been providing opportunities for young people in refurbishment. We wish to further examine the potential of this kind of approach.

5.10 What kind of skills will we need? Specialist technical skills, for example in the installation of renewable technologies will be required. We will need skills to design, install, certify or accredit, maintain and service equipment. We will require some workers who are multi-skilled, so that household disruption is kept to a minimum. And we need workers who have communication and customer service skills: who can explain and demonstrate how technologies work and influence behaviour so they are used effectively. We will also require workers who maintain traditional skills for work on older buildings. The Scottish Government, with Historic Scotland, will be convening a Summit in September 2012 to consider how best to stimulate the demand for these skills.

5.11 The Scottish Government is considering the existing provision and potential relationships between our fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes and Green Deal delivery models. This will enable us to develop a strategic approach to ensure the delivery of relevant training provision to meet industry needs.

5.12 The introduction of the Green Deal will also result in training being required for Green Deal assessors, through upskilling of the workforce who currently produce Energy Performance Certificates, and through training of new assessors, both of who will need to achieve a new qualification to be certified to undertake any Green Deal assessment. In addition the current workforce who will be installing Green Deal measures may also require an element of upskilling. There may also be the need for new recruits or construction industry returners affected by the recent economic downturn who will training at various levels.

5.13 A well trained and skilled workforce will allow Scottish companies to expand, but this will not of itself create jobs. However, this Strategy should give businesses and enterprises in the green economy assurance that there is a long term commitment to making Scotland's homes low carbon. The companies that take advantage of this opportunity for growth will be those that have also invested in developing their workforce.

Q43: (a) Has Chapter 5 of this consultation identified the key challenges to ensuring Scottish companies have the skills to take advantage of the opportunities expected to be on offer? Yes/No

(b) If not, What other challenges are there?

Q44. What further action is needed to ensure there is appropriate investment in skills and training to meet these opportunities?

Q45: How can the construction industry be made more aware of the potential funding and support for skills and training development opportunities and engage effectively with those providing training to ensure that it meets their current and future needs?

Q46: How do we ensure that skills and training opportunities are provided on an equitable basis to all groups in society?

Q47: Apart from training and skills opportunities are there any other issues that should be addressed to make employment in construction and other industries becomes more representative?

Q48: Please describe any specific difficulties relating to skills and training that apply to those in remote and island areas and your view on how these may be addressed?


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