Education and skills report

Tackling the retrofit skills shortage head on

The Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB), National Construction Training Centre in Mount Lucas, County Offaly is aiming to meet the challenge of training the huge numbers of skilled workers needed for Ireland’s planned housebuilding and deep retrofitting programmes, writes John Kelly, Manager of the National Construction Training Centre.

Following the Government’s ambitious target to retrofit 300,000 homes by 2030, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD established the LOETB National Construction Training Centre in Mount Lucas as one of four centres of excellence, with the anticipation of training 2,000 people in retrofit skills, including near zero energy buildings (NZEB) skills. Facilities at the training centre include a large purpose-built deep retrofit hall of 600 square metres. The retrofit training hall includes full-scale rigs representing the gamut of situations encountered on most projects, everything from roof, wall and floor insulation to airtightness application, ventilation installation and commissioning, and renewable energy installation. It is truly a showcase in terms of state-of-the-art upskilling facilities for those involved in delivering deep retrofits.

With the target of 2,000 people in mind, the National Construction Training Centre at Mount Lucas, launched an extensive suite of courses, which focuses on both retrofit and new build all of which are fully funded for people in employment under the national Skills to Advance initiative. Three different course types are provided.

The first are short, City and Guilds assured courses, which focus on delivery of NZEB.

These courses include the very popular NZEB Fundamentals (one-day course), NZEB Retrofit (two-day course) and NZEB Ventilation (three-day course). There are also trade-specific courses for carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, and plasterers as well as a more detailed programme for site supervisors.

The second include practical programmes which are industry recognised, the objective of which is to ensure learners, including new entrants, have the skillset currently required by employers to contribute to the Government’s retrofit targets. Examples of such courses include external wall insulation, internal wall insulation and airtightness.

The third category of programmes are longer QQI accredited courses, including Thermal Insulation Installation and Construction Skills. These courses typically run from five to eight days and include a formal assessment on completion.

“The facilities, programmes and educational resources needed to deliver a growing pool of retrofit experts is now in place. At the LOETB National Construction Training Centre, there is an exciting multi layered training programme for every level, from entry to expert.”

The National Construction Training Centre at Mount Lucas has also commenced delivery of the Certified Passive House Tradesperson course. Passive house buildings are energy efficient buildings that provide users with high levels of comfort and excellent air quality around the clock. They may not look any different from other buildings, but good planning as well as careful execution of the details is essential in the construction of such projects. This ensures that the high requirements for the building envelope and technology can be met. As a result, building professionals need additional expertise which can be acquired and substantiated with the Certified Passive House Tradesperson course. This two-day blended learning course is delivered online (one day) and onsite in the National Construction Training Centre at Mount Lucas (one day).

All programmes are delivered in a flexible manner to ensure convenience and accessibility to all. With provisions for day, evening, and weekend courses. Many courses offer a blended approach, with both online and on-site delivery.

The key attraction for learners attending the National Construction Training Centre at Mount Lucas is the quality of training rigs which provides for a deep-immersion experience. As well as learning about deep retrofit from a theoretical perspective, learners get to grips with the very latest products, details and application methods from expert tutors who are deeply passionate about delivering deep retrofits at scale.

Tony Dalton, Director of Further Education and Training at LOETB adds: “The facilities, programmes and educational resources needed to deliver a growing pool of retrofit experts is now in place. At the LOETB National Construction Training Centre, there is an exciting multilayered training programme for every level, from entry to expert.

“2022 will see further investment in the training site, increasing NZEB and Retrofit capacity, and developing future construction training facilities including construction simulation and BIM.” 

E: nzeb@mountlucas.ie
W: www.mountlucas.ie

 

 

 

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