It has been a great pleasure to offer my support towards achieving the ambitions set out in the building standards workforce strategy. I am pleased that this has been seen through to completion following the launch by my predecessor, the Minister for Local Government and Housing, in 2020. Delivery of the workforce strategy for the building standards verification service has achieved significant improvements that directly benefit verifiers.
I’m pleased to see that strategy actions have delivered all of the aims and objectives over the last three years. These were to raise the profile of building standards as a valued and respected profession, balance the age demographic of the workforce, support succession planning for improved sustainability and operational resilience of service delivery, introduce a national methodology for assessing the competence of building standards professionals and recognise the need to build skills in response to changes in construction.
Partnership working has been key to achieving the aims of the strategy. Scottish Government and Local Authority Building Standards Scotland ensured all decisions were based on feedback from verifiers about current practice. This remains important as the building standards profession provides an essential public service that we rely upon to ensure our buildings are safe, energy efficient and fit for the future. An effective verification service supports wider economic development across Scotland that benefits all of our communities.
At the start of the strategy, delivery of actions across five discrete projects was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, resilience shown by the workforce during the pandemic showed how all verifiers were able to adapt quickly to ensure services to customers were maintained during this time. Embracing new ways of working, such as using technology for remote verification inspections, and the introducing the Professional Competency Framework and the Competency Assessment System were important successes during this time.
This positive culture was also evident with the introduction of both graduate apprentices and modern apprentices into the workforce. Apprentices were supported by their workplace mentors and managers to learn the skills needed for their role and quickly became valued members of the team. The willingness of individuals to volunteer as building standards ambassadors and talk about career opportunities through their own lived experience in the job was also a hugely welcome initiative.
As the strategy work closes, new initiatives have been identified that will build on the progress achieved. The partnership approach so evident through the national and local commitments in the strategy will continue to embed the positive changes delivered so far. Looking ahead, a bespoke online learning platform is currently under development. When this goes live next year, it will aid verifiers to accelerate training and development on a wide range of technical and legislative topics. It is expected that this will benefit all individuals, regardless of whether they are new to the profession or an experienced member of staff.
As a result of the hard work over the last three years, the building standards profession is on a more sustainable footing, better able to meet new challenges affecting the built environment and more able to provide a resilient service for all customers.
Patrick Harvie Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights
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