Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) are at the forefront of a learning revolution which is already playing a pivotal role to achieve these climate goals as well as future proofing our education strategy.
The prevailing mood that emerged from COP27 in late 2022 was a sense of urgency. Ireland’s ambitious Climate Action Plan commits us to a legally binding target of net-zero emissions by 2050, with a 50 per cent reduction by 2030. In line with national and EU directives to provide the skills necessary to meet the challenges of the green economy and to tackle climate change, Education and Training Boards are already rolling out dedicated courses, modules and micro qualifications for learners and trainers. ETBs are also developing new programmes on an ongoing basis in partnership with employers across Ireland.
The SOLAS Green Skills Unit is responsible for progressing the green transition in further education and training (FET) and Assistant Manager Gráinne Timlin says that “through FET training we are already taking action to upskill learners in green skills and to make ‘careers of the future’ a reality now.”
Green skills for life, construction, and careers
“The first challenge is to raise awareness of the issues and the part we can all play to tackle them,” says Timlin. “Green Skills for Life focuses on educating and enlightening FET learners of all ages and backgrounds.”
A key goal for the construction industry in Ireland is to eliminate the carbon footprint of building homes and, through retrofitting, to deliver NZEB (nearly zero energy buildings) with A or A+ energy ratings as standard.
Fiona Maloney, ETBI Director of Further Education and Training Support Services says that ETBs are ideally positioned to meet the skills demands of the green economy: “We are delivering over 50 green skills programmes across our sector and have established NZEB Training Centres of Excellence in Laois and Offaly, Waterford and Wexford and Limerick and Clare ETBs, with centres in Dublin and in Mayo, Sligo, and Leitrim to follow.
“We are working closely with our colleagues in SOLAS to implement the Green Skills for FET 2021-2030 Roadmap to ensure learners and trainees across Ireland have the skills they need to power Ireland’s green economy and to access new career opportunities.”
Beyond the construction sector, courses in areas such as biodiversity, renewable energies and clean transportation are also being rolled out at ETBs across the country.
Timlin says the challenges of the green transition are also creating exciting career opportunities: “From agriculture, technology, fashion, ecology, and right through the programme of existing FET courses, there are flexible opportunities for employees, employers and the unemployed to upskill in this essential area.”
A just transition for everyone
Access and inclusion are central to the provision of Further Education and Training in Ireland, with 16 ETBs across the country making FET available to all regardless of age, gender, socio-economic background, or educational attainment.
Maloney says that in this sense, FET is perfectly aligned with the just transition to a green economy: “ETBs are at the heart of every community in Ireland and with such strong links with employers and networks in every region, they are ready to support those in vulnerable sectors to take advantage of the new opportunities this transition will present. There is a pathway for everyone and with expert careers guidance accessible to all, we will ensure that everyone finds the right path for them and a future in Ireland’s green economy.”
“It may sound cliché, but the voices on this podcast are inspirational because they are regular people who found a way to change their lives and get where they wanted to be through education and training opportunities provided by their local ETB.
Careers of the future include:
• agricultural meteorologist;
• carbon-trading analysts;
• renewable energy technicians;
• marine operatives;
• heat pump installer;
• domestic solar PV installer; and
• retrofit engineer.
Find out more about Green Skills courses at www.solas.ie/programmes/green-skills/ or through your local ETB.
OMG! What a Complete Education!
Launched in October 2022, the complete first series of the new Further Education and Training (FET) podcast, OMG! What a Complete Education! is now available on all podcast platforms. The series was developed by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) with co-hosts and authors of the Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling books, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen.
Throughout the series, McLysaght and Breen – who first met as students at Ballyfermot College of Further Education – met with FET learners and staff from Education and Training Boards, as well as a guest appearance from Minister for Further Education, Simon Harris TD. Drawing on the personal experiences of learners from across Ireland, each episode shines a spotlight on the range of pathways available, from apprenticeships to Post-Leaving Certificate courses, outdoor education to adult and community learning.
Co-host Sarah Breen says: “It may sound cliché, but the voices on this podcast are inspirational because they are regular people who found a way to change their lives and get where they wanted to be through education and training opportunities provided by their local ETB.
“We all know someone who didn’t have a great experience in school, did not get the points they needed for a particular course, or never got any qualifications at all. Speaking to someone like Liam Cleere who studied through Tipperary ETB, on the podcast, you realise that there is always a way back to education. Now an aspiring author, Liam could not really read or write when he left school but listening to him read into the microphone, something which he had written himself – it is powerful.”
OMG! What a Complete Education! was created by ETBI in partnership with SOLAS. The series is available on Spotify, Apple, and all podcast platforms.