Hundreds of people in Wales’ Convergence areas – including a high proportion of women – have taken part in a major European-funded programme to improve sustainability skills among those working in the built environment sector.

Architects, energy assessors, plumbers, surveyors, electricians and many other professionals are among the 503 who have taken part in courses run through the Built Environment Sustainability Training (BEST) programme, which is now drawing to an end after three years.

While women represent 12% of the sector’s workforce, the BEST programme has proportionally had attendance of 19% women.

This has been a very important project for Wales,” said BEST’s director Dr Julie Gwilliam. “The energy and built environment sectors represent a significant part of the workforce, and the project has been able to pave the way to putting Wales at the forefront of sustainability expertise in these areas.

The fact that we reached such a high proportion of women in the sector is a major achievement and a very encouraging sign for the future.

The courses have been very high quality, and delivered by expert training providers, and the programme has only been possible because of the support of our joint sponsors.”

BEST has been managed by the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University, and supported by the European Social Fund, through the Welsh European Funding Office.

Its joint sponsors have been The Building Futures Group, Constructing Excellence in Wales, CITB Construction Skills, Energy Saving Trust, Proskills, and SummitSkills.

It has provided fully subsidised courses to people who live or work in one of Wales’ Convergence areas, as well as support to companies on equality and diversity.

BEST has also produced A Strategy for Growth, Adaptation, and Progression, a publication which draws on its expertise and research to provide a strategic direction for Wales to meet its sustainability training needs in the sector.

Professor Chris Tweed, head of the Welsh School of Architecture, said: “BEST has been a major success. It has helped to identify and fill the skills gaps in sustainability expertise within the built environment sector, and has also set out a strategic direction for the future.

The Welsh economy and society more widely will reap the benefits of BEST’s work in years to come.”

Information on BEST is available at