A major new skills and jobs delivery project for future housing and infrastructure has been announced by Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.
The Housing, Construction and Infrastructure Skills Gateway is a £6 million investment linking colleges, universities, industry and public sector across the south-east region.
The HCI Gateway initiative will address a skills shortage affecting the region’s construction sector and includes specific measures to challenge the gender gap in employment within the Housing, Construction and Innovation sectors.
Led by Edinburgh Napier University, the project will engage with schools, training programmes, upskilling and key disadvantaged community groups to support entry to new jobs and support career developments.
This is the first time that such a significant skills investment has been interlinked with a City Region Deal. Funded by the Scottish Government inclusive growth programme, support will include accelerated learning, talent development, advanced skills and greater diversity for the construction sector.
Sixty per cent of the advanced skills funding will support women in the sector to specialise in key technical and engineering disciplines. The eight-year programme intends to have a 30-year legacy, enabling many within the region to upskill and enter the sector.
Angela Leitch, Chief Executive of East Lothian Council and Chair of the Integrated Regional Employability Skills Board, said: “Having a regional partnership approach to the skills and job opportunities within the City Region Deal is a major step forward. With a strong inclusive approach to support our communities into these future opportunities and upskilling on such a scale provides a transformational shift.”
Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Sean Smith, who will lead the HCI Skills Gateway, said: “This is a very exciting time for south east Scotland. Over the next 10-20 years this will be the fastest growing region in Scotland and fifth fastest in the UK.
“We will require to build 40 per cent more homes in the next 20 years than we did in the 20 years prior to the recession. New infrastructure and innovation will be key to this growth and also new skills and job opportunities.”
Project partners include Napier, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities and south east colleges of Fife, Borders, Edinburgh and West Lothian. The project will support over 5,000 upskilling and training opportunities and engage with primary and secondary schools to support future career pipelines. By enabling a strong regional workforce for the sector, the project also aims to provide a platform to attract further inward investments to the region.
It is one of three separate skills programmes which have been given the green light for funding under the City Region Deal. As well as leading the HCI Skills Gateway, the university has a key role in the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) Skills Gateway.
The DDI Skills Gateway aims to bring opportunities of the emerging data economy to disadvantaged communities across the City Region and address gender inequality in the tech sector.
It will reach out to up to 250,000 learners in the region to help improve their data skills and career opportunities.
The Intensive Family Support (IFS) programme was also given the go-ahead, supporting workless, lone parent and low-income households.
Infrastructure Secretary, Michael Matheson said: “Using £300 million of Scottish Government investment, the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal is designed to deliver inclusive economic growth, providing opportunities and distributing the benefits fairly across the entire region.”