CITB confirms Scottish investment to attract and retain new workers

Ian Hughes

CITB has announced it is investing £3 million into Scottish construction to support people at the beginning of their careers 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 specific requirements of local construction employers.

CITB revealed that over the course of the three-year commission, participants will be supported in overcoming initial challenges and 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 opportunity for Scotland has evolved from lessons learned through the Construction Skills Fund (CSF) and Onsite Experience programmes, previously delivered in England and Wales. CITB explained that across the two phases of CSF, 20,000 individuals were given the chance to work in construction with 62% of those coming 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 relevant training and experience.

CITB added that with the organisation’s annual Construction Skills Network report due to be published next week, early data suggests annual recruitment requirement in Scotland will increase by over 2% based on 2021 workforce levels. In response, CITB’s recent business plan set out targets with an equally important focus on both attracting and retaining talent.

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.”

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

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