Construction experts wanted to boost shortages

23rd November 2007 at 00:00
A campaign was launched this week to recruit over 200 lecturers in construction and building services, to avert skills shortages in the industry.

It has been fighting a vigorous rearguard action to cope with the huge demands it faces. An estimated pound;21 billion worth of construction work will take place in Scotland over the next five years - and that does not take account of the additional pressures from the 2014 Commonwealth Games, such as the building of the athletes' village in the east end of Glasgow.

An estimated 7,000 new recruits in construction will have to be found every year to meet existing commitments. These include projects such as the redevelopment of Leith Docks, the rail link to Glasgow Airport and the regeneration of the old Ravenscraig steel mill site.

The recruitment campaign for additional lecturers, led by Lifelong Learning UK and ConstructionSkills, hopes to persuade enough experienced employees in the industry to embark on a career change and take up jobs in the college and work-based learning sectors.

Colleges have come under pressure from the significant increase in the number of modern apprentices in Scotland, which has been greater than in the rest of the UK. In construction alone, the numbers have risen by 37 per cent since 2002; as of March this year, there were 11,000 modern apprentices undergoing training in the various construction trades.

Graeme Ogilvy, director for Construction-Skills in Scotland, said: "This is a success story for us, but it has put added pressure on the colleges. A constraining factor has been the lack of qualified staff. We're doing our bit to help."

The campaign will hold two-day taster sessions for those who have registered an interest in a teaching career, with the aim of giving them an insight into the skills required to be a lecturer. Training will take place in the next fortnight at South Lanarkshire, Clydebank, Inverness and Reid Kerr colleges.

The industry is also working on a broader front, taking its message to young people about these varied career options, with increasing success, Mr Ogilvy reports. Construction-Skills Scotland runs courses for school guidance staff and he keeps an eye on educational developments as a member of the Learning and Teaching Scotland board.

Learn Direct and Build, a consortium formed by learndirect scotland, colleges and others with an interest in training for the industry, is using mobile phone technologies to get through to young people.

Training programmes in construction have been backed by a six-year pound;35 million package, approved by Scottish Enterprise in 2003; pound;25 million was allocated to the Glasgow area alone.

An evaluation of this "construction skills action plan" at its halfway stage, published last week, showed the impact on the industry had been "substantial". It had been successful in meeting demand, had raised performance and led to a 12 per cent rise in qualifications and skills levels in those two years.

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