The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has produced a report looking at the changing skills landscape in construction, including the role virtual reality (VR) could play in assessment.

The report points out that a high proportion of the industry’s workforce is close to retirement. It says that the potential impact of this is worrying, as essential skills and knowledge are being lost, there is a decline in entrants to the sector, and there is a shortage of skilled workers in the pipeline to replace those retiring.

“More needs to be done to attract young people into the industry, but also to ensure that older members have up-to-date training,” it says. “It is imperative that employers focus on effective workforce planning to ensure vital skills are not lost within construction.”

Recent analysis of SQA data showed that the highest uptake of qualifications was in the 24+ age group, with the average age of its construction learners being 40.

The government’s focus on construction apprenticeships is also helping to bridge the skills gap, said SQA, facilitating entry into the sector by providing an alternative to traditional study methods and covering many key trades.  

SQA said that has been working towards bridging the skills gap through its range of construction qualifications. In 2017, it launched a further suite of construction qualifications in direct response to the removal of the Construction Related Occupation (CRO) card.

The report also refers to need to encourage all school pupils, especially girls, to consider STEM subjects when they choose their courses and career paths as a means of bridging the skills gap in the sector.

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