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CITB makes Scottish investment to increase and retain new talent

CITB is investing £3m into Scottish construction to support individuals at the start of their career and increase job retention.

The commission, Scottish Academy for Construction Opportunities (SACO), will target the Highlands and Islands and Scotland Central and Southern, and allow bids to be customised in response to the specific requirements of local construction employers. Over the course of the three-year commission, participants will be supported in overcoming any initial challenges they may face when starting a new job, as well as being provided with ongoing in-work support. This will include job coaching, mentoring, employer engagement, peer and buddy systems or other appropriate support measures to improve the quality and sustainability of work outcomes.

The new and innovative opportunity for Scotland has evolved from the lessons learned through the Construction Skills Fund (CSF) and Onsite Experience programmes, previously delivered in England and Wales. Across the two phases of CSF, 20,000 individuals were given the opportunity to work in construction with 62% of those taking part classified as being from non-traditional entry routes.

While these models have previously been designed with a focus on enabling job starts, SACO has been implemented to specifically help individuals already Employment and Site Ready (ESR) and working through the next phase of their construction career. For this reason, CITB is looking for bids from employers who can work with organisations to provide the relevant training and experience required.

With CITB’s annual Construction Skills Network report due to be published next week, providing insight into the UK construction economy, early data suggests annual recruitment requirement in Scotland will increase by over 2% based on 2021 workforce levels. In response to this demand, CITB’s recent Business Plan set out key targets with an equally important focus on both attracting and retaining talent. SACO is just one of the many initiatives detailed in the plan that is intended to help industry through this crucial time, acting as a one-stop solution by matching employers with suitable job seekers. Additionally, regular reviews will be carried out with individuals in sustained employment for three and six months, alongside tracking up to 12 months, further supporting the primary aim of increased retention.

Ian Hughes, CITB Engagement Director for Scotland, said:

“We have watched similar models play out and shaped SACO accordingly, so that it encompasses all of the effective elements, while specifically catering to Scotland’s needs. Knowing what a great impact previous models such as CSF have had, this is an extremely exciting time for Scottish employers to play a role in moulding the future of construction.

“We know we have a huge challenge on our hands with the current skills gap and demand for more workers. We must act now to ensure industry has the workforce it needs, and I urge all employers to consider this great opportunity.”

Scottish Government Business Minister Ivan McKee said:

“Investment which aims to support those starting a career in construction and increase retention rates of workers is welcome. At a time when we are facing skills shortages across the construction industry, it has never been more important to invest in growing a skilled staff base.

“Embedding a fair work culture and upskilling the workforce for a digitalised transformation across design, manufacture, construction, and maintenance activities will be required to deliver a decarbonised built environment and become a net zero economy by 2045.”

For those wishing to learn more about the funding, two face-to-face events are being held, one for Scotland Central and Southern and one for the Highlands and Islands, in addition to two virtual webinars next week (week commencing 13 June).

The commission goes live Monday 20 June. Further details about the events and how to access the opportunity can be found on CITB’s website.