Scotland moves to address housing skills gaps

Housing construction skills gaps in Scotland are to be addressed following the recommendations of a new industry report. 

Investment in apprenticeships, upskilling workers and attracting more people into the industry are among the themes of the 40 recommendations in the New Housing and Future Construction Skills report by the housing and construction skills short-life working group (SLWG).

The Scottish government set up the independent SLWG, chaired by professor Sean Smith from Napier University, in 2018. Although the report says the industry faces a number of challenges and skills shortages, it also claims that advancements in technology and new apprenticeship programmes present opportunities for new skill sets, career paths and workforce diversity.

The Scottish government has also published its own report outlining the wider challenges for housing to 2040. Issues raised include the need for improvements to existing housing stock, a recognition of the distinct needs of Scotland’s rural communities, and the putting of people and communities at the heart of planning.

Speaking at the Homes for Scotland annual conference, communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “It is crucial that Scotland has a skilled and productive construction workforce, both now and in future. We are already working collaboratively with industry, education, skills bodies and local authorities on programmes to develop the workforce required for major housebuilding projects.

“We need a housing system that works for us all, that is dynamic enough to adapt to future challenges and is resilient in the face of them. I welcome the recommendations of the housing and construction skills short-life working group in this report, and look forward to discussing these with my cabinet and ministerial colleagues to consider what we can do to support skills delivery now and longer term.” 

SLWG chair, professor Sean Smith, said: “The coming decade will be one of the most innovative and transformative periods for the housebuilding sector as new technologies and approaches enter the market. For young people considering a career in engineering, construction and housebuilding there are a range of new opportunities, roles and key skills the sector will require. There is now a unique opportunity for school career advisors, industry and the public sector to enable the pathways into these future careers and support greater diversity and inclusion."

Click here to download the New Housing and Future Construction Skills report.

Read the Scottish government's Housing to 2040 stakeholder engagement report here.

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