THE body responsible for looking after roads in East and South Ayrshire has only managed to fill a third of road worker vacancies over the last two years.

Now, councillors are to decide on a training scheme that aims to address the problem at the Ayrshire Roads Alliance (ARA), as well as bringing fresh blood into an ageing workforce.

In a report to East Ayrshire Council’s cabinet, ARA head of roads Kevin Braidwood said that the problem of the age of staff has been discussed in a 2021 report.

Cumnock Chronicle: Head of ARA, Kevin Braidwood.Head of ARA, Kevin Braidwood. (Image: NQ Archive)

Currently 28 of ARA’s 52 roadworkers are aged 46 and over, including 16 who are aged between 56 and 70.

There are 13 staff aged between 18 and 30, and 11 between 31 and 45.  

Mr Braidwood said: “A significant aim of the report was to ensure as a result of an ageing workforce and recruitment difficulties, particularly around roadworkers, that Ayrshire Roads Alliance developed a training programme to build our capacity from within.

“Ayrshire Roads Alliance had 15 road worker vacancies, and has advertised
these eight times over the last two years with only five posts successfully filled.

“Therefore the option to ensure future service continuity was to build capacity within.”

While it already operates a range of apprenticeships, trainee and graduate programmes with access to college and degree courses as well as developing a seasonal employment initiative.

However, Mr Braidwood acknowledged the need to do more to address the staffing shortfall.

He said: “With the challenge presented to recruit roadworkers Ayrshire Roads Alliance has developed a roadworker training programme to enable the service to grow its own, providing full training and thereafter on completion provide a roadworker position.”

The scheme will open to school leavers, people on employability pathways, seasonal workers and foundation apprentices.

The programme would see grade A trainees vocational courses in highway maintenances along with practical work and e-learning modules.

Grade B trainees would then undertake the full Streetworks award, full driving licence (including category C vehicles associated with the work).