– Report finds that training is key challenge in reaching net zero goals –

A report commissioned by Housing, Construction & Infrastructure (HCI) Skills Gateway has highlighted that training is the number one barrier to achieving net zero across the construction sector.

With increasing momentum to tackle the climate crisis, HCI commissioned the Circular Edinburgh team from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to work with a range of industry partners to discover what support would most benefit the construction sector as Scotland transitions to net zero.

Over 150 companies were contacted over a four-month period to assess their current activities in additional training, how they are building green skills within their workforce and – crucially – working to identify competency gaps.

As a result of the study, HCI has committed to delivering five key actions:

  • Increase access to retrofit training, starting with free courses for the region’s housing professionals delivered via the Built Environment – Smarter Transformation BE-ST, formerly Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.
  • Deliver courses in new building techniques and emerging technologies across the region’s further education colleges.
  • Map current sustainability accreditations and identify gaps and new training required.
  • Translate offsetting and audit academic research into practical carbon accounting tools relevant to industry in South East Scotland.
  • Inspire more young people into sustainable construction careers by funding partnerships like Daydream Believers and the Edinburgh Science Festival.

Dr Kenneth Leitch, Head of Civil, Transportation and Environmental Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University and Project Lead at HCI Skills Gateway said: “The idea of ‘green jobs’ in construction is a misnomer – everyone who works or enters work in housing, construction and infrastructure needs to be skilled in decarbonising our built environment, whatever their role.

“It is expected that the Scottish construction industry will need 22,500 new roles by 2028. These will be a mix of new skilled jobs, increased efficiencies in existing roles, and roles focussing on decarbonisation innovation.

“HCI is currently funded until 2025, and so we intend to put our five priority actions into motion in the next three years. This will ensure we are providing access to the skills and training needed to fill these new roles, and for on-the-ground delivery across the region to help our nation achieve its net zero ambitions.”

Mayan Grace, Director of Projects at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said: “Working on this project provided an opportunity to engage with businesses on one of the most pressing issues we face today, and gather their first-hand experiences on the skills gap around sustainability within the sector. We found the overwhelming theme was that more training is essential to equip the workforce with the skills they need.

“We were encouraged by business and the education sector’s ongoing willingness to work in collaboration, but to achieve this we need to ensure that it led by a joined-up approach. Only through strong partnerships between academia and business can we produce successful outcomes which allow us to achieve a sustainable future for the sector.”

Launched in 2019, HCI Skills Gateway is a £6m investment from the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal, tasked with building inclusive and sustainable construction careers for all across the region.

Find the full report here: https://bit.ly/3awFa9u

The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce has been awarded funding by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to inspire and support young people in Scotland to pursue a career in the construction industry through a programme of Construction Work Tasters.

This programme of Work Tasters will reach 2,800 young people aged 16-25 nationally over the next three years and will support CITB’s aim to encourage talented young people to join and remain within the construction industry.

This includes more young people from diverse backgrounds, including those without a connection to construction, who are inspired to pursue a career in the industry.

The funding will also support employers across the construction sector to attract and recruit young talent and build a pipeline of future talent through engagement in the programme.

The project delivery for the Construction Work Taster programme will be led by Developing the Young Workforce in partnership with construction industry leaders and employers across Scotland.

Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education, Youth Employment and Training, said: “The Construction sector is critical to Scotland’s economy with 48,700 job openings across the sector by 2031 providing meaningful employment for the current and future workforce.

“This programme of Work Tasters will help talented people join and remain within the construction industry and inspire young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to pursue a career in construction.”

Michael Lennox, Senior Customer Engagement Manager at CITB Scotland said: “CITB will invest £233m in construction training in the next year and the development of Work Tasters is a critical part to this.

“Employers have told CITB that traditional work experience initiatives do not fit with modern construction sites, or assist SMEs with recruitment. This industry investment of £280,000 will bring almost 3,000 young people closer to working in construction and a new approach for employers to inspire future apprentices and embed a new approach.”

Emma Dickson, Skills Chair at Construction Scotland said: “Construction Tasters is not only about inspiring young people into construction, but importantly helping them to pinpoint the best role for them in construction. Construction careers are wide ranging, from bricklayers and joiners, to project managers, planners and engineers; it’s a minefield of opportunity, and can be daunting.

Construction Tasters will form the next step from Build Your Future, which provides young people with an introduction to construction. It will be important for industry to work closely with DYW on this project, which also aims to inspire young people who wouldn’t normally consider a career in construction. It is crucial that we diversify to support the net zero and digital agendas.”

For more information on how industry partners can get involved, please contact info@edinburghchamber.co.uk.

— SSE Thermal and Equinor report welcomed by Energy Secretary Michael Matheson —

— The project could contribute £1.2bn to the UK-wide economy throughout its lifetime —

A planned new low-carbon power station at SSE Thermal’s Peterhead site in Aberdeenshire could generate significant benefits to the Scottish and UK economies over its lifetime, according to a new report.

The ‘Powering the Next Generation’ report highlights the potential socio-economic benefits of Peterhead Carbon Capture Power Station, which is being developed by leading energy companies SSE Thermal and Equinor.

The proposed plant could become one of the UK’s first power stations equipped with a carbon capture plant to remove CO2 from its emissions and would connect into the Scottish Cluster’s CO2 transport and storage infrastructure, which underpins plans to deliver one of the UK’s first low-carbon industrial clusters.

Based on analysis from BiGGAR Economics, the report highlights the scale of the economic impact at a local, Scottish and UK level. In total, it is estimated that £2.2bn will be invested throughout the development, construction and the first 25 years of its operational life.

The new development would create significant benefits, with the report showing that £60m is expected to be contributed to the Aberdeen City and Shire economy during development and construction, with 980 years of employment supported. Over the station’s operational lifetime, it is estimated that around £25m will be added to the wider Aberdeen economy each year, with around 240 jobs supported on an annual basis.

On a Scotland-wide level, the analysis shows that £190m would be added to the economy during development and construction, with 3,070 years of employment supported. Across the lifetime of the station, an average of around £35m would be added to the Scottish economy annually with 290 further jobs supported each year.

Finally, at a UK level, the report estimates that £470m would be added to the economy through development and construction, as well as 7,850 years of employment. On an annual basis once operational, the plant would contribute an average of around £50m to the UK economy and support 560 jobs.

Net Zero and Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Carbon capture, utilisation and storage is critical for meeting, not only Scotland’s statutory emissions reduction targets, but those set across the UK. Indeed, advice from the Climate Change Committee describes the technology as a “necessity, not an option”. The innovative Peterhead CCGT Power Station is a fantastic example of how Scotland’s energy sector can make the transition to net zero and – as this study demonstrates – benefit the Scottish economy, providing employment and a just transition for our workforces.

“It shows just how important it is to invest now in carbon capture technology. Which is why the UK Government must award the Scottish Cluster clear and definitive Track-1 status. We continue to press them to reconsider their decision and work in collaboration with the Scottish Government to accelerate support for the energy transition in Scotland. This includes offering £80 million under our Emerging Energy Technologies Fund to accelerate the Cluster’s deployment.”

Catherine Raw, Managing Director for SSE Thermal, said: “Peterhead is vital to Scotland’s energy system and a new low-carbon power station at the site would be key to delivering a secure and credible transition to net zero. The proposed Peterhead Carbon Capture Power Station would provide essential flexible and reliable power to keep the lights on and back up Scotland’s world-leading renewables sector, while helping to meet our climate action targets. But the benefits stretch even further as we look to maximise the positive impacts of the energy transition for workers and communities in the North-East of Scotland.

“While we await clarity from the UK Government on the timeline for deployment of the Scottish Cluster, we are pushing ahead with our development plans, and in March we submitted a planning application for the new low-carbon plant – which, as this new report shows, has the potential to be a game-changer for the region and for Scotland.”

Grete Tveit, Senior Vice President for Low Carbon Solutions at Equinor, said: “Peterhead Carbon Capture Power Station is a significant project that will get the UK closer to its net zero goal, while also working alongside intermittent renewables and enhancing low-carbon energy security. Together with our longstanding partner SSE, we’re committed to delivering our hydrogen and CCS projects such as Peterhead Carbon Capture Power Station to help Scotland and the UK become a world leader in low carbon technologies. While supporting the decarbonisation efforts, this project will also offer great benefits for the local economy and supply chain, safeguarding high-value jobs and creating new ones.”

In addition to their plans at Peterhead, SSE Thermal and Equinor are also working in collaboration on three low-carbon projects in the Humber region in England, including Keadby Carbon Capture Power Station in North Lincolnshire. In addition, Keadby Hydrogen Power Station at the same site would be the world’s first major 100% hydrogen-fuelled power station, while Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage, on the East Yorkshire coast, would be one of the world’s largest hydrogen storage facilities.

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home is appealing to businesses across Edinburgh and beyond to support pets in need through its pet food bank, Paws Pantry. With the cost of living increasing and many people being thrown into financial crisis, the Home’s services have never been needed more.

Paws Pantry was launched in 2019, with a goal of supporting pet owners in the community during times of need. In an effort to expand the Home’s reach to all those who need this service, they have since partnered with over 50 human foodbanks, and supported over 7,000 pets in 2021 through this service alone. In 2022 they are now supporting an average of 2000 pets every single month and demand continues to rise.

By supporting pet owners in times of difficulty, Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home are helping owners to avoid the heart breaking decision to give up their much loved pet.

Paws Pantry is needed now more than ever, and as its reach increases, so does its stock requirement. The Home urgently needs small packs or multipacks of wet and dry dog and cat food. They are also always in need of dog and cat treats, blankets, toys and jackets.

Could your company support pets in the community by setting up a donation station in your business or asking your employees and customers to do a donation drive?

If you would like to find out more, please contact Katie Kennedy, Development Executive at katie@edch.org.uk.

With cybercrime continuing to escalate, it is more important than ever that organisations equip themselves against the threat of cyber attack. Understanding how resilient your organisation is to attack and practicing your response in safe environment is crucial. With this in mind, Royal Bank of Scotland have partnered with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre to offer ‘Exercise in a box’ sessions for our corporate customers. We are delighted to invite you and six of your colleagues to join us at a workshop at our Conference Centre at Gogarburn on Tuesday 7th June.

At this workshop you will have the opportunity to step through exercises which create real world business scenarios and allows you to test your cyber resilience against each. Exercise in a box was developed by the National Cyber Security Centre to help organisations test and practice their internal response to a plethora of cyber issues – helping you to understand where you have strengths and weaknesses; and how to maximise your protection.

This workshop is designed for your business leaders and management – we recommend that you bring colleagues that fulfil both technical and non-technical roles.

Book your place here.

A major academic study of the AGE cities – Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh – has found that the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and Brexit have combined to create a potentially “toxic” cocktail of change for urban Scotland.

Scotland’s Urban AGE 2022 calls on businesses and all levels of government to collaborate to ensure these cities overcome the challenges they face in this period of rapid and profound change.

The project – commissioned by Brodies LLP, Anderson Anderson & Brown and Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh Chambers of Commerce is a sequel to a 2018 report and outlines what has changed (and what has not) in light of the pandemic and the accelerating net zero carbon agenda.

Professor Brian Evans, Head of Urbanism at the Glasgow School of Art and an advisor to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, led the research team and estimates that city inhabitants will soon outnumber rural dwellers for the first time in human history.

He said that Scotland needs the AGE city regions “at the top of their game” if it is to remain globally competitive. “Cities need to be dynamic, or they decline,” he warns.

Despite accounting for just 22% of Scotland’s land mass, these city regions house 68% of the population and account for 73% of the country’s GVA.

However, a consequence of this centripetal position is that these cities have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, which hollowed out shared spaces, devastated high streets and accelerated societal change. Together they lost 124 weeks of sales, more than any city in neighbouring England, due to our stricter pandemic measures.

The challenges

These economic challenges have combined to create five key challenges:

City centres facing enormous transition: There is consensus around the fact that office requirements could fall by around 30% as requirement shifts from scale to smaller, but better commercial real estate. If 3-4 day in-office working weeks become the norm, the impact on footfall, the viability of businesses serving office workers, the office property market and the public transport system could be profound, especially if it is accompanied by long-term changes in shopping, entertainment and leisure.

A built environment that requires retrofitting on an industrial scale: The built environment, which is believed to contribute around 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint, is a major barrier to reaching net zero targets and retrofitting on an industrial scale is required.

An ageing population which will lead to workforce and tax revenue pressures: By 2030, a fifth of our population will be of retirement age. By 2050, that figure will surpass a quarter. This presents significant challenge around how our citizens interact with their cities, but also around the human capital required for them to function. This poses particular problems for Scotland as immigration is currently a reserved matter.

Deteriorating domestic and international connectivity: A step-change in inter-urban connectivity and infrastructure is required to undo the damage done to our air connectivity by Covid-19 and improve the speed of rail connections between our AGE cities. Without Government support, UK airports will lose around 600 routes as a result of the pandemic.

Planning and taxation systems straining with pace of change: The pace of change in all market sectors – housing, offices, manufacturing, logistics, retail, leisure, hospitality and education – presents a significant challenge to our planning service, which at present is a hollowed-out version of its former self after years of cutbacks. Scotland’s non-domestic rate scheme also lacks flexibility, which may leave it ill-equipped to deal with the rapid change being thrust upon our cities.

Recommendations

To ensure our AGE cities can bounce back from recent shocks to the system and thrive in the century of the city, the report’s commissioning partners have made seven recommendations to policy makers:

  • ONE: Devolve meaningful tax raising and other fiscal powers to our cities to allow them to fund investment and deliver programmes that reflects local needs and opportunities.
  • TWO: A major focus on increasing the residential population of our city centres to replace the critical mass lost due to technological advances and other social changes.
  • THREE: That the AGE cities form an alliance to work collectively to accelerate their journey to becoming net zero cities, mirroring the principles of the C40 cities. Retrofitting on an industrial scale will require taxation incentives.
  • FOUR: That immigration policy is devolved to ensure our cities and regions have access to the workforce they need to prosper. Aligned to this, Scotland needs a Net Zero Jobs Strategy to ensure that we have the requisite skills and labour force to deliver on our climate pledges.
  • FIVE: We need significant investment in growing and upskilling our planning service to embed pace, place and partnership in all it does. It needs to respond quickly to the changing environment in our AGE cities, contain the strategic planning capacity to design better places, and also seek to work in a collegiate rather than combative fashion with those wishing to invest in our cities.
  • SIX: We need a new rates system fit for the century of the city. A new system should reflect changing property needs locally and incentivise new businesses to emerge and grow in our towns and cities. A new system must also recognise and account for the impact of technology on retail and the changing use of our city centre buildings.
  • SEVEN: Significant and transformational investment in rail infrastructure is required to improve journey times between all three AGE cities and their extended regions. AGE city airports also urgently require route development funding to address lost connectivity.

Reaction

Speaking on behalf of the three Chambers, Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce said: “The updated report considers what has changed in light of the pandemic and the accelerating net zero carbon agenda, and also the many fundamentals which have not.

“It must be used to provide the launchpad to propel Scotland forward in the century of the city. And we ask Scotland’s policy makers to urgently work together with business communities to make the necessary interventions that will shape the next chapter for our AGE cities – and it must happen at pace.

“As agents of positive change, Chambers of Commerce and our project partners stand ready to play our part. Doing, not just talking.”

Elaine Farquharson-Black, partner and co-head of planning at Brodies, said: “The recommendations set out in the report come at a critical time for our cities and provide useful direction to encourage economic recovery at a time of unprecedented change.

“With offices in all three of the AGE cities, Brodies is acutely aware not only of the challenges which each city faces, but also the importance of their success to the national economy. We need the AGE cities to be vibrant places for people to live, work and visit. It is now our collective responsibility to implement the recommendations of SUA2 through collaboration, investment and commitment.”

Mark Bell, Co-founder at Partner at AAB Consulting, said “We were delighted to be involved in the discussion leading to this report. While we don’t need to agree with everything in the report it does provide a lot of food for thought. Our focus is on what it means for the thousands of businesses we support across the three cities.

“Our message is clear. A lot has happened since 2018 but not much has changed; we need to stop talking about what could be done and start doing it; and we need to grasp the opportunities arising in the post-pandemic world and the increased focus on the climate emergency.”

Download the report

Click here to download the executive summary and recommendations report.

Click here to download the full report.

 

 

Edinburgh Rugby will enjoy the taste of South American cuisine for the remainder of the 2021/22 season as Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill join as an Official Partner to the capital club.

The short-term partnership will see a number of club events held at the George Street-based venue over the coming months, while supporters can also look forward to a host of exciting competitions and social initiatives hosted on Fazenda’s digital channels.

Edinburgh Rugby Managing Director, Douglas Struth, said: “Fazenda is a fantastic restaurant who’ve truly brought their own unique South American style to the Scottish capital since opening in 2018.

“We’re really excited to partner with them for the remainder of the season and I’ve got no doubt our brilliant fans will be dining out and enjoying the taste of South American cuisine in the coming months.”

Home to the ultimate gaúcho experience, Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill brings a taste of South America to Edinburgh, while the 175 cover restaurant is a truly authentic and unique addition to the city’s New Town.

Fusing the sophistication and style of the modern interior and the authentic rodizio experience with their fervour for the finest, Fazenda offers an amalgam of Scotland’s heritage and South American tradition.

Teresa Au, Relationships & Events Manager for Fazenda, said: “We’re really excited about this partnership between Fazenda and Edinburgh Rugby.

“We’ve had a great relationship with Scottish Rugby since Fazenda first opened here in 2018. Working with Edinburgh Rugby on a partnership level was a very natural move to make within the growth of the budding relationship.

“There are some really fun and exciting events that we are planning for the next couple of months, all I can say for now is – watch this space!’

If you would like to find out more, contact Teresa Au, Relationships & Events Manager to book a table and enjoy the ultimate gaúcho grilling experience.

Mother Technologies’ Head of Business Development and Head of Technical services at Mother Technologies were present at a Managed Service Provider (MSP) Summit with Google for Education

Google provided training to ensure as a MSP for Google we are informed of the best Hot To and Best Practices for deploying Google Workspaces and Chrome products along with a deep dive into more complex provisional tools which support Cloud based workspaces and Chrome Software

The team were thrilled to meet up other MSP’s from around the Country whilst proud to note they were the only Scottish MSP in attendance showing the Digital Classroom transformation is safe in Mother’s Hands.

One of the UK and Ireland’s largest independent digital agencies, Mediaworks, is set to create 30 new jobs in the North West after substantial client growth in the region.

The agency has opened a new Manchester office, located at Jactin House in the heart of Ancoats, which follows the appointment of Oliver Goldring as managing partner of Mediaworks’ North West operation earlier this year.

In the last two years alone, the rapidly growing agency has doubled its headcount to over 200 digital experts, coming off the back of a raft of exciting client wins across its six UK&I sites. Its rapid growth in North West-based client wins have prompted the agency to commit substantial investment into its presence in the region.

In the last month alone, Mediaworks’ North West operations has overseen client wins including Winter Gardens, Hill Dickinson LLP and Salix Homes.

Brett Jacobson, CEO and founder of Mediaworks, explained: “We’ve launched an aggressive recruitment campaign in the North West that aims to see 30 heads operating from our new Manchester base in the next 18 months. We want to recruit the best from a rich digital talent pool here in the North West, adding them to our current crop of digital experts across the group.

“Mediaworks is now one of the top independent digital agencies in the UK. Oliver and his growing team in Manchester are going to have a fantastic future as part of the agency.”

The organisation, which was founded in 2007 by Jacobson, has developed a reputation in delivering digital growth for clients in key sectors such as retail, housing, finance and energy.

Oliver Goldring, managing partner for Mediaworks’ North West operations, added: “We’re thrilled to have secured and moved into our new office in the heart of Ancoats. Mediaworks has such a brilliant team, both here in Manchester and across its sites in the UK&I. This is a huge opportunity to fuel growth right across the group.”

Mediaworks delivers a range of services across SEO, PPC, web dev, brand, content and digital PR. The rapidly growing agency currently has 200 staff across its six offices in Newcastle, Leeds, Edinburgh, Manchester, London and as MWi in Dublin.

Westminster’s refusal to revamp employment law risks reversing gains in employee welfare, writes Betsy Williamson.

THE RECENT Queen’s Speech, historic in its own right with the absence of Her Majesty at the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years, contained 38 new laws, but also absent was the long-promised Employment Bill.

First mooted in 2019 and to be introduced when parliamentary time allowed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided this was not the time to be bothering his Government with trifling matters such as improving the working person’s lot.

Time instead was devoted to targeting so-called disruptive eco-warriors in a public order bill, forcing through the privatisation of Channel 4, a “levelling up” bill which promises people can have “more of a say over changing street names”, and an animal welfare bill to introduce new ways to tackle pet abduction and puppy smuggling.

The shelved bill was to include a number of measures strengthening worker’s rights. Despite being mooted pre-pandemic, some of the issues to be addressed have become more relevant than ever.

This included a proposal to establish a single-state enforcement body which would be responsible for enforcing minimum wage requirements – something which may have helped easy the worries of those most affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

Another casualty was measures to ensure employers passed on tips to staff in a transparent manner and without any deductions, while also a goner was the proposed right of those who work variable hours to be able to secure a stable contract after working for 26 weeks.

This government’s optics towards flexible working are further solidifying. It still requires 26 weeks service before a request needs to be considered by an employer, rather than the proposed default of this being a right from day one of employment starting.

And workplace pregnancy discrimination was not tackled, with plans to extend redundancy protection for expectant mothers suffering the same fate as proposals for the right to a week’s leave for unpaid carers and paid leave for parents with children needing neonatal care.

It now falls to responsible and savvy employers to consider what measures they can put in place to ensure they retain staff and make their organisations more attractive in recruitment terms against a backdrop of a skills shortage, increased employee mobility.

It is not purely altruism. In the current labour market, businesses need to ensure staff are properly looked after and feel valued for their contribution to the success of the company or else they will vote with their feet and take their leave.

Morally, there is an obligation on employers to go one better than the Government by ensuring society’s most vulnerable groups are not unfairly disadvantaged

Flexible or hybrid working is here to stay and no matter its absence from the statute book, employers who fail to get to grips with this mainstream requirement – are putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage in being positioned to recruit the best available talent.

And improving protection for staff on maternity leave and other rights of leave separates the enlightened employer from the pack – and sends a strong signal that an organisation cares about its staff from cradle to grave.

The Employment Bill is on the backburner but these changes are coming and smart employers can get ahead of the game by taking a positive attitude to supporting staff, and as a consequence retaining valued employees.