Retrofitting report

Further education and training: Driving innovation for the future of construction

As the world shifts towards a more sustainable future, it is crucial to develop the necessary skills in the Irish construction workforce. This will ensure that we meet the requirements of the construction industry’s sustainability agenda and achieve the Government’s climate action and retrofit targets in line with Ireland’s green transition.

The green economy presents a massive opportunity to generate jobs, upskill employees, raise awareness, and expand sustainable areas such as retrofitting, renewable energy, and electric vehicles.

Given that Ireland’s future competitiveness will increasingly be linked to its ability to decarbonise, the further education and training (FET) sector is playing a vital role in driving the green transformation of the economy and society, through the development of green skills programmes.

Delivered nationwide by the Education and Training Board (ETB) network, they have been designed to equip every learner with the right skills to play their part in the climate response, ultimately ensuring a sustainable future for everyone.

Construction is a key part of the green skills FET provision, with a focus on training and upskilling those in the sector in the latest green technologies, such as nearly zero energy building (NZEB), retrofit, and modern methods of construction. The provision of these courses in construction is crucial to respond to the future skills requirements of the green economy to ensure that Ireland can meet its net-zero greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050.

NZEB centres of excellence have been established and strategically located across the country to deliver a broad range of NZEB and retrofit courses. Funded by SOLAS, the further education and training (FET) authority, training is available in City of Dublin ETB, Cork ETB, Laois and Offaly ETB, Limerick and Clare ETB, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim ETB, and Waterford and Wexford ETB.

Contributing to building and developing the green construction supply chain, the NZEB centres of excellence provide training and upskilling in all areas of retrofit and NZEB construction starter programmes from the NZEB fundamental awareness course, right through to trade specific NZEB courses suited for post-apprenticeship and upskilling programmes developed for site supervisors, carpenters, plumbers, plasterers, electricians, and bricklayers.

Since the establishment of the network of centres of excellence, the NZEB and retrofit training provision has increased rapidly and has reached over 8,000 enrolments nationwide. It is clear that the demand is there with the number of enrolments having doubled in 2023.

Collaboration with industry is at the heart of what the NZEB centres of excellence deliver to ensure that training is targeted to the current and future skills needs of the construction sector.

All courses delivered are developed in conjunction with industry such as Uisce Éireann, Construction Industry Federation, NSAI, SEAI, National Association of Scaffolding & Access Contractors (NASAC), Civil Engineers Contractors Association (CECA), and many more.

This collaborative approach with industry extends to the delivery model where many NZEB programmes are provided in a hybrid and flexible manner to accommodate work schedules of employees and employers, and to minimise the time spent off-site for companies. Many courses are available during evenings, weekends, and traditional operating hours and the theory element is delivered online when possible.

Upskilling opportunities has been further opened up to construction workers with demanding work schedules by the development of a new mobile NZEB training unit, by the National Construction Training Campus at Mount Lucas, under the provision of Laois and Offaly ETB.

This innovative approach is a real game-changer in training provision in that it has been designed to travel to construction companies and schools across the country, providing even greater flexibility in NZEB training delivery, as well as introducing students to modern methods of construction.

All courses are fully funded for both unemployed and employed learners and are City and Guilds assured or QQI validated and are delivered in a flexible way for both unemployed and employed learners at little to no cost.

FET continues to shift the dial in the construction sector in driving the expansion of the national training infrastructure to deliver on critical NZEB and retrofitting commitments.

Discover NZEB and retrofit courses provided across the country at: Locations include City of Dublin ETB, Cork ETB, Laois and Offaly ETB, Limerick and Clare ETB, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim ETB, and Waterford and Wexford ETB.

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