Energy Skills Workshops Set To Commence For Irish Construction Sector
|Builders, renovators, contractors and other stakeholders involved in the Irish construction industry are being invited to participate in a series of free energy workshops throughout the country this month.
The purpose of the workshops, entitled “Energy in Buildings: Preparing Construction Workers for the Future”, is to support the training and up-skilling of construction workers as part of wider efforts to create employment in the sector and to assist Ireland in achieving the EU 2020 energy efficiency targets. Under the National Energy Retrofit Programme (NERP), more than one million buildings nationwide must be retrofitted by 2020.
Build Up Skills Ireland (BUSI) Project is hosting the upcoming workshops as part of its development of a Roadmap for the upskilling and training of construction workers in Ireland.
The workshops take place in Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dundalk (16 October), Limerick Institute of Technology (19 October), Tower Hotel in Waterford (23 October), Maldron Hotel in Cork City (24 October), DIT Offices in Grangegorman, Dublin 7 (26 October) and the Clarion Hotel in Sligo (30 October). Each workshop takes place from 9.30am to 2.00pm.
BUSI Project coordinator Seamus Hoyne of L.I.T. and The Tipperary Energy Agency commented: "The Roadmap for Ireland will seek to outline actions that will provide construction workers with skills and knowledge necessary to build highly energy efficient buildings, while at the same time ensure their better career prospects in Ireland and abroad. To secure industry input into the Roadmap we are conducting a series of six consultation workshops around Ireland. Discussions at these events will focus on overall strategy for fulfilling the training needs, more specific issues like courses’ content and qualifications and barriers for the implementation of the roadmap."
Mr. Hoyne noted that the Roadmap must be endorsed by key strategic National stakeholders by April 2013 and will set the platform for revision of existing programmes and development of new programmes.
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He explained: "Energy use in buildings accounts for over 40% of total final energy consumption in Ireland. The National Energy Retrofit Programme (NERP) sets out a target of 1 million Irish buildings to be retrofitted by 2020 in an effort to reduce the country’s total energy consumption by 20%. With the high contribution to energy savings expected from the retrofitting of existing dwellings, there is a need for competent contractors and supervisors to oversee works and technicians with an in-depth knowledge of heating system design, integration and control."
Recent figures show there are approximately 70,000 workers currently still operating in the Irish construction sector. The residential sector accounts for 68% of the value of building construction output with approximately 80% of this activity in repair, maintenance and improvement.
"Outside of the continued downturn in the Irish construction industry, one of the biggest challenges facing the sector is that many of those operating within it are not sufficiently trained in how to build highly energy efficient buildings," stated Mr. Hoyne, who added: "The rapid evolution of the building standards for energy performance has resulted in a skills gap across the current workforce. The challenge of deep retrofitting also presents knowledge and skills gaps. At present there is limited coordinated effort nationally to address these gaps."
Mr. Hoyne said that at operative and craft level, all workers involved in building construction and renovation will require training. The projections for the volume of training required are 10,000 Operatives and 49,000 Crafts/Trades people. An additional 7,000 may go on to do additional training to act as project supervisors.
"The demand for such skills will be intrinsically linked to the level of energy policy implementation. Establishing quality standards for professional practice and upskilling is vital and participation should be promoted and funded for those in employment to support the sustainability of the construction industry tasked with implementation of building standards," he concluded.
BUSI, which is funded by the EU Commission Build Up Skills Initiative, is being managed by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Blanchardstown Institute of Technology (BIT), Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), The Irish Congress of Trades Unions (ICTU) and The Construction Industry Federation (CIF).
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