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16 November 2017

Employability minister helps celebrate success in addressing skills gap

Employability minister helps celebrate success in addressing skills gap

Robertson Group’s commitment to addressing the skills shortage in the construction industry has been praised by the Scottish Government’s employability and training minister.

Jamie Hepburn MSP visited the Pennywell regeneration project in Edinburgh, where hundreds of affordable homes are being created by Robertson Partnership Homes for Urban Union.

During the visit he met Laura Docherty, an apprentice working as an assistant site manager for Robertson Partnership Homes – and the milestone 100th employee for the business.

The recent growth of Robertson Partnership Homes is a direct result of the decision to carry out trade works, including joinery, plumbing and electrical works. This has led to the employment of 40 joiners, eight apprentices and a number of general managers responsible for overseeing specific regions.

The minister also learned about the wider regeneration of Pennywell and Muirhouse, which is also being delivered by Robertson Partnership Homes. The ambitious project includes affordable housing, retail space and a civic square.

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn said: "Congratulations to Robertson Partnership Homes who have actively taken steps to address the skills gaps they have identified within their business.

"This is exactly the type of approach that is benefitting our economy and is in line with the Scottish Government's commitment to making sure our skills system is aligned with employer needs.

"The Scottish Government continues to invest significantly in work based learning and is enhancing and diversifying our apprenticeship programmes, including building on the early success of Graduate Level Apprenticeships. We are on course to meet our target of 30,000 new starts each year by 2020 while our Flexible Workforce Development Fund is offering opportunities to up-skill and re-skill existing employees."

Robertson's steps to help futureproof the industry follow recent findings from a Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) report highlighting the need for the skills gap to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Stewart Shearer, managing director, Robertson Partnership Homes, said: "Due to the current labour shortages within the industry, we decided that in order to secure the correct resources for our pipeline we had to employ our own in-house trades.

"The current skills gap is threatening to derail the wider built environment industry, and we're working as a priority to help address this. As well as joiners, we are currently recruiting for plumbers and electricians across all regions, and will also be offering eight further apprenticeships in 2018.

"We're part of a dynamic and innovative industry with diverse opportunities – and it's up to us to communicate it. By providing and encouraging young people to take up an apprenticeship, we can help raise the profile of the industry, inspire a new generation and ensure vital trades have a well-trained and sufficient source of labour."

To date, Pennywell Living has seen 193 homes completed, 108 of which are for social and mid-market rent and 85 properties for private sale. A further 177 homes are under construction with 315 properties in planning. In total nearly 800 homes will be delivered at the development, with work expected to be completed in 2023.

Neil McKay, managing director, Urban Union, said: "Pennywell Living has been a tremendous success and is already making a significant difference to residents living in the area. It is fantastic to see continued progress being made across Pennywell and Muirhouse, all of which will help to enhance the area and show it is a quality place to live."

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