The FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey revealed that builders’ workloads are at their highest levels for 10 years, with 67% of Scottish builders reporting higher enquiry levels in Q2.

However, the growing demand for skilled, quality tradespeople is being hampered by an ongoing struggle to secure labour, especially carpenters and bricklayers. 53% of builders are struggling to hire carpenters / joiners and 47% are struggling to hire bricklayers.

The demand for skills is not a new challenge, but what is the current situation around training and apprenticeships in Scotland and how can you get involved?

Train the next generation

On Wednesday 6 October, Sandy McGillvray from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) provided an update to FMB Scotland Board members on construction apprenticeships in Scotland.

There continues to be strong demand from industry to train and recruit apprentices. In 2020, despite the impact of the pandemic, 1,160 new CITB construction craft apprenticeship starts were achieved.

Sandy McGillvray also noted the current challenges with delivering apprenticeship training through Scotland’s colleges, which include:

  • As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, some planned apprenticeship training was missed in 2020. While mitigating measures were helpful during this time, remote learning cannot replace practical training.
  • Scotland’s colleges are working hard to ensure apprentices in their second and third year catch up on the missed training, however this is putting a strain on college resources.
  • Some flexibilities have been introduced to address the backlog of around 1000 apprentices who are still due to complete their apprenticeship in 2021. It is estimated that 50% of these will achieve qualification imminently, 20% are close to completion, 20% will need more support and 10% are disengaged.

Local small builders train 71% of apprentices in the construction industry, helping to create the next generation of quality tradespeople. There are a wide range of resources and grant schemes available to help support construction business that wish to take on and train an apprentice.

To find out more about the support available for apprenticeship training in Scotland, read our ultimate guide to construction apprenticeships.

Become a Go Construct STEM Ambassador

Careers in the construction industry should be encouraged early on, and the next generation must be better informed about the opportunities within the sector.

To help achieve this, the CITB are on the lookout for individuals to act as the face of our industry for young people, inspiring them to consider a career in Construction and the Built Environment through sharing their own experiences.

Some FMB members are already Go Construct STEM ambassadors and are helping to change perceptions about a career in the industry. As a Go Construct STEM Ambassador you’ll receive some training and can get involved in delivering presentations at local schools in Scotland, participating in career days, mentoring young people and more. Find out more about Go Construct and apply to become an ambassador here.

Support industry collaboration

In addition to working closely with CITB, FMB Scotland Director Gordon Nelson is involved in several industry groups, including:  

  • Construction Scotland Skills Industry Leadership Group
  • CICV Forum Skills sub-group
  • Skills and Qualifications group – formed in 2020 with the Scottish Decorators Federation and Scottish Building Federation in response to the pandemic.

As a member of these groups, Gordon voices the FMB’s position on skills and training and shares feedback from members in Scotland. Members are invited to share their experiences and ideas with Gordon to help inform discussions about what else can be done to support and improve the training environment in Scotland. If you would like to share your views on construction skills, please contact Gordon Nelson.

Find out more about the work the FMB in undertaking to address the skills shortages in UK construction on our dedicated skills and training campaign page.

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