Partnership to build critical construction skills for Net Zero target

BEST And SDS Embark On A Strategic Partnership Photo Credit To Robbie Mcfadzean

Two national organisations have joined forces to build skills that meet construction’s critical role in Scotland’s drive to Net Zero.

Scotland’s skills agency, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the national innovation centre for the built environment, Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST), have created a formal partnership.


Through the strategic partnership agreement, SDS and BE-ST will explore and create opportunities to work co-operatively to develop the skills needed to support the drive to a low carbon economy and to improve sector productivity. 


The agreement cements a long-standing relationship between the two bodies, which have already worked together across several areas to support the Built Environment and construction industry.


More recently, BE-ST and SDS have been collaborating with others as part of a Construction Accord to improve the sector for those working in it and benefiting from it.


One area of joint working under the new strategic partnership will be responding to the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (CESAP), by tackling the major skills implications for the Construction sector to fulfil its critical role around Heat Decarbonisation.


This will include the development of evidence to support SDS CESAP Industry Skills Groups activity, influencing stakeholders and collaborative work across the regions to prepare for future legislative changes.

Another key area of collaboration will be the essential input from BE-ST around future skills and Net Zero

issues alongside SDS’s work with partners to review apprenticeship standards and frameworks for the sector.


During apprenticeship reviews, BE-ST will provide insights and evidence on emergent and sustainable technologies and practices to Technical Expert Groups reviewing apprenticeship developments and facilitate the conversations on these issues.


Stephen Good, CEO of BE-ST and Neville Prentice, Senior Director of Service and Delivery at SDS formally signed the partnership agreement.


Neville Prentice said: “The key to Scotland’s future prosperity is to ensure that its people and its businesses are inspired and enabled to develop the right skills for a changing world. SDS collaborates across the skills eco system to make this happen.


“Recognising how critical the Construction sector is to Net Zero, and with the recent launch of the Construction Accord, the time was right to work together to create an agreement that allowed us to maximise opportunities in partnership to support the construction sector develop the essential skills needed in what will be a transformational period ahead.

Having BE-ST bring its independent knowledge and insight into apprenticeship development brings valuable expertise and resource to ensure skills meet the needs of the sector now and for the future. Neville Prentice
Senior Director of Service and Delivery at SDS

BE-ST is one of Scotland’s seven innovation centres supported by Scottish Government, Scottish Funding Council and Scotland’s Enterprise Agencies. Its mission is to accelerate the built environment’s transition to zero carbon, and does this through a range of innovation, R&D, knowledge exchange and service design programmes.


Stephen Good said:The skills system in Scotland underpins many of the solutions to the challenges the construction and built environment sector faces, from reaching net zero targets to achieving a just transition.


“We need to ensure we have the mechanisms in place to respond to the demand for skills now and to plan for competencies that will emerge as we transition to net zero.


“This partnership between BE-ST and Skills Development Scotland not only speaks to the critical importance of skills development in successfully transitioning to net zero – but also to making this transition fair and equal. Something that we know is seen as important on a governmental level after it was defined as a key theme in the Scottish Government’s recently published Just Transition Plan for the Built Environment and Construction discussion paper."

Together with SDS, we have a clear vision that building the necessary skills infrastructure requires innovative, transformative and modern approaches. Our partnership will allow us to do this; to identify greater opportunities to collaboratively target skills gaps, mainstream innovative solutions that accelerate a just transition to net zero and bring the benefits to industry. Stephen Good