Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today (10 Oct) signalled that college courses and energy efficient housing will be key priorities for the party in the months ahead.Patrick-looking-up-reduced-size-SMALL
Addressing members at the biggest ever Scottish Green party conference, at the SECC in Glasgow, Mr Harvie spoke of the opportunity to plug a skills gap by creating thousands of modern apprenticeships in energy efficient housing.

There are currently no courses or apprenticeships in this area. Improving the energy efficiency of housing, now deemed a National Infrastructure Priority by the Scottish Government following pressure from the Scottish Greens, requires modern construction methods and multi-skilling to retrofit buildings, as well as specialist skills in maintaining older and historic buildings. Jobs needed in the sector include trained energy assessors, construction workers, boiler engineers, renewable energy fitters and building inspectors.

There are around 13,000 16-24 year olds out of work and not in education in Scotland. Creation of 6,500 retrofit apprenticeships, alongside the investment required for the National Infrastructure Priority, could ensure that energy efficiency work slashes youth unemployment in Scotland.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"Scottish Greens see the connection between the need for good college education and training for our young people, the skills gaps in our economy and the need to tackle fuel poverty and climate change by stopping heat leaking from our housing stock.

"The Scottish Government has cut college places by 156,000 since 2007 and around a third of college students from the most deprived backgrounds do not successfully complete courses. We must make colleges a priority, and there is a clear role for further education to support the move towards a jobs-rich low-carbon economy.

"We will push for this priority in the forthcoming Scottish budget, which we engage with constructively every year, and we will ensure it is a priority as we head into the 2016 election. Our ambition makes clear that a vote for the Scottish Greens is a vote for investment in the future our young people, good jobs, opportunities for local businesses and a real effort to tackle fuel poverty and climate change."

Opinion polls suggest Green MSPs will be elected across Scotland's eight regions at next year's Holyrood election.

In the "Jobs in Scotland's New Economy" report commissioned by the Scottish Green MSPs analysis shows that a mass retrofit programme would need 18,900 jobs in Scotland to transform the housing stock. Today's announcement of aiming to create 6,500 related apprenticeships shows how serious Scottish Greens are about feeding that demand for skilled jobs in energy efficient housing.