Chapter 6: Upskilling and Career Pathways
Over the last decade as new building regulations and construction technologies have developed these have led to new types of skills being required and job opportunities in the new housing construction sector.
The sector is highly dependent on training and upskilling being embedded in both private and public sector domains given the close interactions in planning, design, regulatory compliance, technical knowledge, product and system innovations and sustainable development goals.
The SLWG discussed a number of aspects and issues which were seen to be impeding the training and skills development within the sector and the apparent absence of explanatory ‘career pathway’ options for parts of the sector. Often the current phrasing by industry and training providers of classifications for education and skills levels used in Scotland are the English qualification levels or the previous older Scottish levels. It is then not surprising for those entering the sector or employed within the sector to be confused by such terminology which is not aligned to the current Scottish qualification levels. Clarity and consistency of terminologies used by the sector would reduce such confusion.
There are websites with some information including My World of Work (MWOW), CITB, Go-Construct, Professional Institutions, FE and HE sectors, industry organisations and trade bodies. For someone new to the sector or being advised in secondary schools of different career options the landscape appears quite complex. To attract people into the sector and to train those who advise on career pathways requires sufficient and clear pathway information. This is not to undo what is already there but it does provide an opportunity to have a ‘go-to’ website for Scotland’s construction skills and profession career routes, which links across to the various platforms and information available and which is aligned to SQA levels. Some career descriptors within MWOW could also be updated or revised to better reflect the job roles, opportunities, career aspects and activities involved. For example updated salaries information would be helpful, MWOW states £28k as average salary for bricklayer when the average is £40k and can be up to £90k for top earners.
As the sector innovates and develops new technologies, softwares, build systems and employment opportunities it is vitally important that Scotland’s school career officers are upskilled and aware of these opportunities. This also aligns with Chapter 8 ‘Attracting future workforce’.
Furthermore as new approaches, innovations and construction methods are developed to assist in successful installation, their deployment and growth requires a close alignment with new skills and training provision. Many new construction components coming onto the market do not require lengthy training provision. Some training may be only be 30 minutes to 2hrs to upskill staff on new tools, equipment, processes or regulatory building standards changes which address a specific technical change. Recent changes to reduce support provision for short training and upskill sessions by training providers was cited by SME’s as a disadvantage to encourage and embed such onsite skills development. This may require further analysis to determine how such training can qualify for funding support to ensure companies and their existing staff can access upskill provision.
More recently the Climate Change Plan (CCP) 2018  sets out some of the future directions and targets for emissions reduction for the residential sector for 2030 and 2050. New build housing contributes less than 1% of the stock each year and will over time contribute approximately 20% by 2050. Replacement of older existing stock, such as by ‘plot renewal’ , provides opportunities to further increase the deployment of new build housing where it is uneconomic to retrofit. Future construction systems and technologies for halls of residence, care homes and other non-domestic new build sectors will require similar skills provision to those for new build homes. Scotland’s new housing sector is typically 75% timber based. Growing the provision and development of courses, funding support and training materials which can upskill and support new skills entry will support new housing development and performance but also align with CCP emission reduction objectives.
R.6.1 Supporting those new and already in the sector with clear and functional Scottish education, training and career pathways through a centralised information portal for Scotland.
R.6.2 Provision and supply of (flexible) upskilling or “top-up” knowledge (for all levels), which is encouraged by employers, public bodies and industry organisations.
R.6.3 On-site and Offsite based short training sessions (less than half a day) should be funded to accelerate upskilling.
R.6.4 Provision of upskilling funding support is required for BSO / Planners and public sector funded areas such as local authority and housing association staff.
R.6.5 There is a need to up-skill education and careers staff (schools) and FE in readiness for future jobs, new career paths and opportunities.
R.6.6 Upskilling in new timber construction systems and low carbon technologies.