East Lothian is to share in a £6 million investment geared towards developing skills in the construction sector.

The Housing, Construction and Infrastructure (HCI) Skills Gateway is a £6 million investment backed by the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Region City Deal.

Focused on addressing a skills shortage in the region’s construction sector, the HCI Gateway will support more than 5,000 upskilling and training opportunities and aims to provide a platform to attract further inward investment to the region.

It will create new, clearer career pathways into the industry and develop partnerships including those with East Lothian schools.

There will also be a focus on upskilling people currently working in the industry and developing advanced skills, accelerated talent development and greater diversity, including measures to challenge the gender gap in the housing, construction and innovation sectors.

Led by Edinburgh Napier University and backed by East Lothian Council, the project will engage with schools, training programmes, upskilling and key disadvantaged community groups to support entry to new jobs and support career developments. It will link colleges, universities, public sector and industry across the region.

Also being announced is the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) Skills Gateway, which aims to bring the opportunities from the emerging data economy to disadvantaged communities across the City Region and address gender inequality in the tech sector. It will reach out to up to 250,000 learners in the region to help improve their data skills and career opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Intensive Family Support (IFS) programme will support workless, lone parent and low-income households – including people in East Lothian.

Angela Leitch, Chief Executive of East Lothian Council and Chair of the Integrated Regional Employability Skills Board, said:  “Growing the East Lothian economy and supporting local jobs continues to be one of the council’s top priorities. We put a huge amount of effort – partnering with others – into securing the City Region Deal.

“The HCI Gateway is an exciting opportunity to develop skills in the housing, construction and innovation sectors. This is particularly important at a time at a time when East Lothian is Scotland’s fastest growing council area and there is a real focus on creating an environment where communities can develop with jobs and opportunities for people at all stages of their career.

“Having a regional partnership approach to the skills and job opportunities within the City Region Deal is a major step forward, supporting people into employment, as well as enabling upskilling and career development.”

Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Sean Smith said: “This is a very exciting time for south east Scotland. Over the next 10-20 years this will be the fastest growing region in Scotland and fifth fastest in the UK. We will require to build 40 per cent more homes in the next 20 years than we did in the 20 years prior to the recession. New infrastructure and innovation will be key to this growth and also new skills and job opportunities.”

Funded by the Scottish Government’s inclusive growth programme, this is the first time that such a significant skills investment has been interlinked with a City Region Deal.

Project partners include Napier, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities and south east colleges of Fife, Borders, Edinburgh and West Lothian.

Published: Wednesday, 20th March 2019