31 January 2024

The first students of a new course introduced to address the skills shortage in the civil engineering industry have graduated from Fife College.

The graduation was held at the College’s Dunfermline Campus to celebrate one of the first groups of successful students in the country to complete CECA Scotland Academy’s pilot NPA Civil Engineering Operatives SQA course.

Students were joined at the graduation event by representatives from several civil engineering firms from across Scotland who took the opportunity to interview the graduates after the ceremony, offering the opportunity for students to go straight from learning to earning.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Scotland designed the course to fully meet the workforce needs of an industry with a growing skills gap. Energy Skills Partnership (ESP) worked with Fife College, UHI Inverness, UHI West Highland and UHI Argyll to introduce the course within the SQA qualification framework, and the Scottish Funding Council also provided support.

Civil engineering is critical to supporting local communities by building the vital infrastructure and transport links they rely on, but its workforce is ageing with the course providing an important new route into the industry and will support the attraction and retention of fresh talent.

The students began studying the 18-week course in August, learning a range of practical skills and visiting major construction sites, including the College’s new Dunfermline Campus.

Dennis Savage, Director of Faculty, Engineering Science Technology and the Built Environment at Fife College, said:

"We are immensely proud to celebrate the achievements of the first cohort of the CECA Scotland Academy graduates at Fife College. These graduates have not only successfully completed this innovative programme but have also paved the way for future talent in the civil engineering industry.

“A collaborative effort between the College, CECA Scotland, Energy Skills Partnership, and the Scottish Funding Council, this course underscores our commitment to addressing the skills shortage in this vital sector by creating a sustainable pipeline of talent. The enthusiasm and dedication displayed by our students, combined with the industry-relevant curriculum and support from civil engineering firms, have laid a strong foundation for the continued success of the CECA Scotland Academy at Fife College.

“As we celebrate this milestone, we look forward to witnessing these graduates contribute significantly to the industry, building the essential infrastructure that sustains our communities."

Grahame Barn, Chief Executive of CECA Scotland, said:

“The requirement to decarbonise the Scottish and UK economies through the generation of green power and the electrification of public and private transport means that there is a decade or more of sustainable growth in jobs and opportunities in the civil engineering sector in the north of Scotland. These are well-paid jobs with the potential for lifelong career advancement and development for any young person joining our sector.

“I wish to thank Fife College for sharing our vision for the CECA Scotland Academy and being a trailblazer in understanding the employment needs of civil engineering contractors. I am certain that this is just the beginning of a very long and successful partnership.”

Future students on the NPA Civil Engineering Operatives SQA course at Fife College were also given a boost after contractor George Leslie delivered a container full of equipment and materials to support the delivery of the programme.

The employers who attended the graduation event included, Morrison Construction, BEAR Scotland, Mackenzie Construction Ltd and Balfour Beatty.

More information about the NPA Civil Engineering Operatives SQA course can be found here.

About CECA Scotland Academy

The CECA Scotland Academy is a training-to-work pathway for creating qualified Civil Engineering Operatives (CEOs). The short course and qualification involves 18 weeks full time at college and is a practical course delivered outdoors. Covering all aspects of health, wellbeing and working safety, it focuses on ground-related works such as finding services, digging and reinstating ground, working with concrete, kerbs and drainage.

About CECA

CECA (Civil Engineering Contractors Association) is the representative body for companies that work day-to-day to deliver, upgrade, and maintain the country’s infrastructure.

With more than 300 members split across eight regions, CECA represents firms who together carry out an estimated 70-80 per cent of all civil engineering activity in the UK, in the key sectors of transport, energy, communications, waste and water.