Get ahead with NZEB and retrofit training

As we look ahead to the future of construction, it is vital that the right skills are developed in the Irish construction workforce to ensure that we can meet the requirements of the construction industries sustainability agenda and deliver on the Government’s climate action and retrofit targets in line with Ireland’s green transition.

Retrofitting and nearly zero energy building (NZEB) are shaping the future of green construction, with training and upskilling programmes crucial to equipping construction workers and industry professionals with the expertise required to ensure buildings have a very high energy performance in line with industry requirements.

A growing number of NZEB and retrofit programmes are available across the country, delivered at little to no cost by a network of NZEB centres of excellence that have been established by a number of education and training boards (ETBs) across the country at City of Dublin ETB, Cork ETB, Laois and Offaly ETB, Limerick and Clare ETB, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim ETB and Waterford and Wexford ETB.

Funded by SOLAS, the Further Education and Training (FET) authority, the centres provide training in all areas of NZEB and retrofit, including anything from starter programmes, post apprenticeship, upskilling to conversion courses. These are part of a broader suite of national green skills FET programmes that aim to provide every learner with green skills and sustainability awareness to become agents of change in climate action.

NZEB centres of excellence have an important role in upskilling thousands of workers and new entrants to support the sector in meeting its housing and sustainability targets. Working in collaboration with industry to address the skills needs, the NZEB centres of excellence develop programmes in collaboration with industry for industry to ensure the provision of training in these centres is both relevant and current.

The National Construction Training Campus in Mount Lucas, County Offaly is leading the way in construction related training for the country, which includes an NZEB and Retrofit Centre of Excellence, all under the provision of Laois Offaly ETB.

The National Construction Training Campus, Mount Lucas

Bebhinn Kennedy, Enterprise Engagement Officer, at The National Construction Campus, and member of the NZEB Retrofit Centres of Excellence Construction Steering Group, tasked with ensuring consistency and standardisation in NZEB and retrofit provision across the country outlines that “depending on the course that we are developing, we would work with stakeholders within that specific industry to ensure that the training provision that we are developing is meeting their needs”.

All business models and working schedules have been carefully considered in the delivery of training programmes, with a blended approach to learning offered by the Mount Lucas NZEB and Retrofit Centre of Excellence.

Courses are also available for evening and weekend delivery, to accommodate traditional operating hours. The theory element of programmes is delivered online where possible to minimise the time off site for companies. All courses are fully funded for both unemployed and employed learners.

An exciting new development in construction skills training developed by Laois Offaly Education and Training Board and the National Construction Training Campus at Mount Lucas is the Mobile NZEB Training Unit. Designed to increase the flexibility of training provision, the mobile unit travels to construction companies and schools across the country to ensure greater accessibility to upskilling opportunities for workers in construction, as well as introducing students to Modern Methods of Construction.

Bebhinn Kennedy, Enterprise Engagement Officer, National Construction Training Campus with Nerea González, Building and Surveying Technician, KRA Visionary.

Kennedy outlines the full “range of innovative methods of education on site” including fully immersive training through a simulated construction hall, in addition to two varieties of VR assimilation training. This state-of-the-art construction technology “allows the learner to experience a range of real-life scenarios, simulating real construction sites”. “We have installed a range of equipment for demonstration and training purposes, and we hope that the learner or the visitor is fully immersed in low energy construction technologies from the minute that they walk through the doors, be it for NZEB reasons or for retrofit.”

The National Construction Training Campus offers a broad suite of NZEB courses tailored to meet the needs of new entrants to skilled managers and professionals, including NZEB fundamental awareness, NZEB retrofit, NZEB site supervisor, retrofit skills, air tightness and vapour control, external wall insulation installer, and many more.

NZEB fundamentals is an introductory course (one day onsite or two half days online) that leads learners on to a variety of pathways into further NZEB training across various trades, with specific courses identified for both site supervisors and construction workers. NZEB and retrofit courses incorporate digital construction technologies. For example, the retrofit skills course includes virtual reality (VR).
All courses are City and Guilds assured or QQI validated and Construction Industry Federation (CIF) approved, with Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points available.

Mount Lucas will also be home to Ireland’s first ever Demonstration Park for Modern Methods of Construction, which will be key in the continued provision of critical construction skills of the future.

Discover NZEB and Retrofit courses provided by the NZEB centres of excellence across the country at Training is also delivered through the NZEB Centres of Excellence at 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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