Infrastructure secretary visits Kier Construction to discuss industry skills gap

Keith Brown MSP (left) with Brian McQuade
Keith Brown MSP (left) with Brian McQuade

Keith Brown MSP, cabinet secretary for infrastructure, investment and cities, visited Kier Construction’s Scottish headquarters in Stepps this week to discuss how construction operators can work with the Scottish Government to address the skills gap.

The industry is experiencing a skills shortage, with 60 per cent of respondents to a survey by RICS confirming issues with labour shortages.

Mr Brown and members of the Kier team discussed a number of ways that can both attract and retain new talent to the industry, including retraining those leaving other industries and working together across the industry to illustrate why construction is an excellent sector with a breadth of career opportunities. They also talked about how increased outreach work with primary and secondary pupils will help to engage them at an early stage.

Kier and Mr Brown considered the good work Kier is already doing, including supporting and facilitating graduate training schemes as well as raising awareness of the construction industry to school pupils. In primary schools, Kier supports the Primary Engineering initiative as part of its work with hub South West Scotland, which aims to engage children with engineering through curriculum mapped projects.

In secondary schools, Kier Construction has started rolling out the Adopt a School campaign for design…engineer,,,construct (DEC!), which aims to address the lack of young British talent in the built environment, and will be delivered to third and fourth year pupils.

As part of the programme, Kier will share expertise and provide access to teaching, training, workshops and give students experience of live projects, to give an insight into industry and help equip them with the foundations they need to consider a career in the construction industry.

Brian McQuade, managing director of the Scotland and north-east England arm of Kier’s Construction division, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Brown to Kier’s Scottish headquarters, introducing him to some of the 200 employees who support our activity across Scotland and sharing our vision of how we can support the continued growth of the Scottish construction sector. We have a clear action plan to help reduce skills shortages and we must grow these activity levels over the coming year to help recruit and retain the talent needed to take advantage of the growing number of opportunities in the market.”

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