Contractor A.C. Whyte & Co. Ltd responded to Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, Kate Forbes open invitation to organisations who wish to play a role in rebuilding Scotland as we collectively recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.
The company, who focus on delivering energy efficiency projects in partnership with Local Authorities and Housing Associations, see themselves as more than just a contractor. They invited the Minister to site recently to hear about their A.C. Whyte Energy Efficiency Skills Academy, a unique and first of its kind training and job creation programme, launched in 2018. The Academy was designed to generate a sustainable, skilled workforce of external wall insulation installers.
Jennifer Phin, Managing Director of A.C. Whyte explained “Scotland have some of the most stringent net zero targets of any nation and in order to meet these, the country must adopt a fabric first approach – prioritising insulating our homes and buildings. This will require huge upscaling in our sector.”
Jennifer went on to say “We created the Skills Academy model, that is a blend of in college and on-site learning that provides targeted training specific to the requirements of external wall insulation, allowing students or ‘Akademos’ as we refer to them, to graduate into guaranteed, full-time employment with A.C. Whyte on successful completion of the 1-year course.”
Ms Forbes was introduced to three Akademos, who successfully graduated into full time employment with A.C. Whyte.
When asked by Ms Forbes how the Scottish Government could support the Skills Academy further, Jennifer Phin of A.C. Whyte confirmed: “These types of energy efficiency projects are an example of how the country will meet our ambitious, but achievable net zero targets.”
The visit took place in Kilmaurs in East Ayrshire, where A.C. Whyte are working in partnership with East Ayrshire Council to install external wall insulation works to a mix of Council properties and private homeowners, funded by Scottish Government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland: Area Based Schemes.
Councillor Jim McMahon, Depute Leader of East Ayrshire Council, attended the visit and was joined onsite by Chief Executive Eddie Fraser, said: “I was delighted to welcome Cabinet Secretary of Finance, Kate Forbes to East Ayrshire and to view the housing improvement works taking place within Kilmaurs.”
“Over the next five years, we will be investing significantly in our existing homes across East Ayrshire and improved energy efficiency will be a key focus for the Housing Asset Services team. Existing homes will benefit from the external envelope improvement programme, new kitchens and bathrooms will be installed along with electrical upgrades and homes will benefit from new energy efficient heating systems.”
“Everything we do is carried out in consultation with the East Ayrshire Federation of Tenants and Residents and our local communities. We are focused on future proofing our communities, not just our buildings, and to working in partnership with local people ensuring that their needs are met. The Skills Academy model is a great example of how focused investment can help to tackle the climate emergency while also providing employment opportunities for local people.”
Jennifer Phin concluded with “With long term budget commitments from the Scottish Government, Council’s like East Ayrshire can design multiyear programmes, allowing contractors to build in Community Wealth initiatives such as the Skills Academy. A.C. Whyte have launched Skills Academies in Inverclyde and South Lanarkshire. Long term investment programmes would allow us to collaborate with councils to roll this out across the country. East Ayrshire residents could benefit, as we create the 20 minute neighbourhood, where residents, train, work and live within their communities, supporting a just transition to net zero.“