NFRC News Detail

NFRC Scotland hits major milestone in promoting traditional skills and roofing careers

by Catherine Oxley | Sep 06, 2022

Ten years of traditional skills events, from Lochgilphead to Jedburgh

Taking part in recent weeks in the Edinburgh Traditional Building Festival with traditional skills demonstrations, NFRC Scotland is now, in 2022, celebrating ten years of an extensive programme of construction skills events, helping to show off traditional roofing skills and the careers available in the industry.

Back in 2012, NFRC took part in the first construction skills demonstration event at Edinburgh Castle, as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, to showcase the work of apprentices and promote the diversity of roles within construction. Over the past ten years, the aim has been to build a sustainable model for introducing young people to traditional roofing skills, working closely with a variety of stakeholders throughout the supply chain, to ensure the impact seen in 2012 would be continued and built upon.

Scotland has a wealth of traditional buildings—all of which will require a level of maintenance at some point in time. These skills demonstration events help to highlight the opportunities in construction, including roofing, to young people, so that they can make an informed choice on their careers and help ensure the future of Scotland’s valuable heritage.

Since 2012, the construction skills programme has evolved and more recently it’s developed at pace, due to the pandemic when no in-person events could take place. Covid-19 prompted the development of online content, which has been a huge help in reaching a larger audience than previously possible.

Now that in-person events are back, and just within 2022 so far, the geographical reach of the programme has been amazing, with traditional skills events taking place from Lochgilphead to Jedburgh. Working with Build Your Future and Developing the Young Workforce, a programme is now being successfully delivered within schools to highlight the construction sector opportunities, including roofing. Pupils can understand career prospects within the industry through online content being shown in class, and if they choose to, they can then attend the hands-on skills events.

One great success story came from working with the City of Edinburgh Council supporting the delivery of pilot programme, through Build Your Future’s Repurposing Challenge and sharing the online content in three schools. The content was so well received that the City of Edinburgh Council is now rolling out the programme across schools in Edinburgh next year.

Now, the aim is to use work with public bodies to create the capacity to help deliver this across every high school in Scotland. It would be a huge achievement to further develop this pathway into the industry for those youngsters showing an aptitude or interest rather than just a one-off opportunity.

Working towards developing the next generation of skilled construction and roofing workers is key to ensure Scotland’s construction can have a skilled workforce across the supply chain. It goes without saying that the success of the programme to date would not have been possible without the huge support of industry stakeholders.

Scott Miller, Chair of NFRC Scotland, said: “It’s been great to get back to delivering these skills events to help the young people with their career choices. NFRC has been working with City of Edinburgh Council, Developing the Young Workforce and other industry representatives to raise the profile of the variety of careers within the construction industry and is looking forward to making a positive impact on the skills shortage within the sector to ensure that Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site can be maintained for future generations to enjoy.

Councillor Mandy Watt, Finance and Resources Convener and Depute Leader at the City of Edinburgh Council, added: ‘Ensuring school leavers are supported into secure, well-paid employment has never been more important. The after-effects of the pandemic and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis mean that many of our young people are facing unprecedented challenges.

I very much welcome this partnership working between NFRC and the City of Edinburgh Council, which is giving young people the opportunity to learn about the traditional construction skills needed to maintain Edinburgh’s world famous historic buildings. They are being encouraged to consider careers that include these skills by an online programme being delivered in schools across Edinburgh, following a very successful pilot.

As NFRC celebrates 10 years of delivering skills workshops and promoting construction apprenticeships, it’s great that they’re putting their experience and enthusiasm into this programme.

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