Consultation on Retrofit Pathway within Construction Site Management and Construction Site Supervision Modern Apprenticeship frameworks in Scotland

Closed 29 Apr 2022

Opened 18 Feb 2022


Proposed addition to the Modern Apprenticeship frameworks:

  • Construction Site Management – Retrofit pathway at SCQF Level 10
  • Construction Site Supervision – Retrofit pathway at SCQF Level 7


Scotland has responded to the climate emergency with a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2045. 

Significant in this equation is that all construction and buildings have a substantial carbon footprint which is created from both embodied and operational carbon emissions. It is estimated that 80% of buildings currently standing will still be here in 2045 therefore, ensuring they are fit for purpose and contribute to reducing carbon is a key economic, market and industry opportunity.

There are around 2.5 million homes in Scotland, yet recent research showed only 278,000 currently use a renewable or low-emissions heating system, highlighting the extent of the retrofit activity required to future-proof Scotland’s buildings. A similar picture exists across the rest of the UK.

In Scotland, particularly in rural areas, we have a vast number of traditional homes, which are constructed and perform differently to new build, so different approaches will be needed for the various types of building.

Recent CITB research suggests an additional 350,000 jobs will be needed in the UK by 2028 to deliver improvements to existing buildings to cut energy demand. As the Scottish Government further defines how it will look to meet decarbonisation ambitions, CITB will continue to work with industry to identify and address the emerging skills gaps associated with the different Net Zero pathways. The addition of this new retrofit pathway offers a clear progression route from the Insulation and Building Treatments Modern Apprenticeship, making retrofit a much more attractive career option and attracting more people into the sector.

Retrofit works in both domestic and non-domestic buildings will form a significant part of the construction industry and it is important that there is a qualified and competent workforce. Construction managers and supervisors will need to have the knowledge, skills and experience to meet the needs of this complex market. In addition, there will be a requirement for such individuals to ensure that buildings are built safely and do not compromise the safety of occupants and users.

In 2018, as part of the National Occupational Standards review for Construction Site Management (CSM) and Construction Site Supervision (CSS) suites, a National Working Group was formed. The Working Group met regularly over a two- and half-year period to review all aspects of the NOS, with a focus on providing a realistic reflection of the current and future needs of employers across all four home nations.

As the discussion moved towards the impact of meeting Net Zero targets, members of the group requested the creation of a Retrofit pathway for CSS and CSM. This was considered, discussed and widely supported and a Retrofit Subgroup was formed. The aim of the subgroup was to identify the competence requirements of both Managers and Supervisors on a construction site to ensure they can support the needs of Retrofit projects.

The Retrofit Subgroup developed units and pathways for CSM and CSS in parallel with other concurrent NOS reviews for Insulation and Building Treatments, and aligned them with current Retrofit initiatives including but not limited to the work of the BSI Technical Committee, PAS 2035 which includes the new Retrofit Coordinator role, PAS 2030 and the development of PAS 2038 for non-domestic buildings.

At manager level – the following units were created: 

  • COSVR756 - Plan the installation of retrofit works 
  • COSVR757 - Manage installation, commissioning and handover of retrofit works

At supervisor level – the following units were created: 

  • COSVR698 - Supervise the pre-installation planning for retrofit works
  • COSVR699 - Supervise the installation, commissioning and handover of retrofit works

The expansion of the existing qualifications to include Retrofit pathways will help support the implementation of emerging building Retrofit and decarbonisation policies, regulations and programmes across all nations. With considerable investment and focus planned by all devolved nations (Scotland, NI and Wales) and the UK government, upskilling of existing workers including supervisors and managers will be crucial. 

SQA Awarding body have committed to offering SVQ qualifications in CSM and CSS (Retrofit) produced at SCQF Level 7 and SCQF Level 10 and have requested inclusion of both levels in the Modern Apprenticeship framework. 

A research report carried out by CITB (‘Building Skills for Net Zero’) found a willingness in industry to adapt to the Net Zero future. More than three quarters (78%) of those we spoke to believe there will be a shortage of skills in their specific occupation when it comes to decarbonisation work. The most regularly cited reasons for the absence of appropriate skills in specific roles were lack of training, lack of funding for training, regulatory changes, and an absence of agreed standards in that occupation. As previously noted, skills to address the retrofit challenge appear to be the most urgently needed, as evidenced by both our quantitative and qualitative research. 

Therefore, the inclusion of the new Retrofit pathways into the Modern Apprenticeship framework will help support the shift towards Net Zero and provide Construction Managers and Supervisors with updated skills to meet the ever-evolving demands of the future.

We are inviting feedback on the addition of the new Retrofit pathway and would be interested to hear from employers, training providers, awarding bodies, assessors and other stakeholders in Scotland to ensure industry feels there is a requirement for its implementation.

Retrofit Subgroup Key Members:

  • Moses Jenkins - Historic Environment Scotland
  • Kate Gunthorpe - Historic England
  • Jill Fairweather – Cadw
  • Sam Allwinkle - CIAT & Edinburgh Napier University

Progression route

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