Training boost for rural construction workers
A new project has been launched which could help address a looming shortfall in construction workers across rural Scotland.
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is putting £5.4m over three years into on-site training hubs.
It expects to see 4,500 people gaining skills across 28 categories of construction job.
Across the UK, similar schemes are under way to cover 18,000 new workers, funded through the CITB payroll levy.
The board is inviting bids, by October, to host one of three hubs for the on-site skill centres.
A spokesman for CITB suggested it could have a particular impact on the Highlands and Islands, the Borders and rural east Scotland.
Data from the industry has raised concerns that many within its workforce are soon to retire, and access to European Union recruitment is being shut down due to Brexit.
CITB chief executive Sarah Beale described the situation as "a perfect storm".
It is estimated that nearly 14,000 recruits will be needed in Scotland's construction businesses over the next five years.
Yet training courses have a very low level of conversion into sustained employment within the sector.
The new project is aimed at raising that from an estimated 15% of those on construction-related college courses, to 30%.
Ms Beale said: "On-site experience is a key part of our strategy to help construction recruit its future workforce, which will also include a major careers campaign and substantially increased support for employers taking on apprentices."
She added: "Meeting demand for new homes and investing in infrastructure requires more skilled people in construction.
"We face the perfect storm of an uncertain post-Brexit migration system, and an ageing workforce with many set to retire in the near future.
"It is therefore essential that the industry attracts, trains, and retains new talent wherever it can be found to ensure construction isn't hampered by a shortage of site-ready workers."