First modern apprenticeship in Building Standards helps address skills shortage

First modern apprenticeship in Building Standards helps address skills shortage

An innovative and strong partnership approach to delivering the first Modern Apprenticeship (MA) in Building Standards is helping to address a major skills shortage in Building Standards across Scotland.

ESP has worked with Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS), Scottish Government, UHI Inverness and Fife College to develop a Modern Apprenticeship which can be accessed by Local Authorities across Scotland.

This profession is critical to supporting local communities by ensuring buildings are safe, efficient, and sustainable, but its workforce is ageing. The MA pilot provides an important new entry route into the profession and will support the attraction and retention of new talent. This is a great example of partnership with two colleges collaborating to deliver an apprenticeship in this way.

UHI Inverness will manage the MA contract and assess the SVQ3 Built Environment Design work-based part of the qualification through assessor visits and online content, while Fife College will teach and assess the HNC Architectural Technology component of the MA, which is taught remotely via online classes.

Fourteen apprentices have enrolled on the MA from Local Authorities across Scotland with recruitment already underway for next year.

The MA was launched by Patrick Harvie, minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ right, during an online event on 23rd November 2022.

He said: “The building standards profession is critical to every community in Scotland. They ensure that our buildings - our offices, homes and schools - are safe and energy efficient.

“The Modern Apprenticeship will help the next generation of building standards staff to start their career. It comes at an exciting time for the industry, as we work to address climate change and build more sustainable and low-energy communities.

“I am pleased to see the commitment made by local authority building standards departments to recruit young people into the profession, and I’m grateful for the support of a range of stakeholders in delivering the apprenticeship.”

Martina Brady, lecturer of Quantity Surveying and Academic and Quality Lead at Fife College, added: “The MA Building Standards collaboration is a direct response to national priorities to upskill and develop the workforce in the area of Building Standards. Working in partnership, Fife College has created an innovative approach to prepare learners for the rapidly evolving world of work and study. Developing a digital learning environment, staff are able to deliver digital content and innovative learning experiences which enable MAs to stream live into the classroom from all over Scotland.

“Fife College will also be collaborating on more exciting opportunities in other sectors of the Built Environment.”

Carrie Higgins, tertiary education lead at UHI Inverness, added:  “UHI Inverness has extensive experience in delivering MAs at this level and is delighted to be working alongside Fife College to train the next generation of Scotland’s building standards surveyors. This MA is being delivered remotely and online to support local authorities across the country addressing the recruitment challenges they face. It shows the value of colleges working collaboratively to support national workforce needs, and we hope this can be a benchmark for more innovative approaches to support other struggling sectors.

“UHI Inverness is currently exploring a Graduate Apprenticeship progression pathway for the MAs.”

Mark Webster (33) works with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council). He commented: “I have worked in civil engineering and manufacturing for the best part of 10 years, but this is an exciting opportunity to advance myself, get paid and develop my career in a sector, which is critical to the current challenges we face like climate change and the cost-of-living crisis. I’m really excited to have this opportunity to stay in the Western Isles and study these qualifications.”

Charlie Calder (18) works for Fife Council. He said: “I always wanted to do something in construction and started doing some research into building standards. I also wanted to go down the apprenticeship route, as it’s a great way to learn. Fife Council were recruiting for building standards apprentices, so I applied and it’s been great. It’s so easy to access the learning and teaching.”

Jim Brown, director at ESP, said: “ESP are delighted to have been involved in the Workforce Strategy Group and the development of this project that has allowed our Construction team the opportunity to work with Building Standards and colleges to shape college training for the future.

“We are excited by this new delivery collaboration between colleges and Building Standards and see real merit in this model for any sector where there is a skills shortage and a need for succession planning. This is a model which can easily translate into other sectors and demonstrates the value of collaboration between Scotland’s colleges to support the needs of industry.”

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