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Contractors see the need for Foundation Energy Skills for site workers

One thing was clear following a special briefing on the QualiBuild Foundation Energy Skills training for construction workers – informed and forward-thinking contractors see the need for upskilling site workers.

The briefing was held at the centre of the construction industry in Ireland – “Construction House” – the home of the Construction Industry Federation. This was a  first chance to engage directly with those affected by the proposed education modules.  The room was full of house builders and contractors, and one sensed that many of these were the leading edge of the industry, the ones that appreciate what is coming down the tracks with onerous building regulations and the move to near zero energy buildings.

Waiting for the event to kick off it was interesting to eavesdrop  on conversations taking place. Small talk was minimal, instead there were tips exchanged on the different ways  to meet the current 2011 Part L regulations and heated debates on the merits of wide cavity, full fill insulation or a combination of narrow cavity, partial fill and internal dry lining insulation.

Robert Butler of the CIF made a brief introduction. Seamus Hoyne of Limerick Institute of Technology presented the context for the QualiBuild project. The project was the result of the European Initiative Build Up Skills,  which identified that there was a need for training those already working in the construction sector rather than those seeking work. The emphasis on the word “Quality” in Quality Building was a result of extensive research and engagement with the industry. Construction workers understood the word Quality but were confused by green or energy efficiency.

There were plenty of questions from those in attendance. How many free EU funded places were available? Yes, sadly only 200 under this set of funding with the need to put a structure in place to roll out the training to the other 60,000 workers in need of the training.  There was a sense of urgency in the room to grab the places whilst available. This was borne out by the rapidly formed queue to speak to Seamus Hoyne after the briefing and get in an early expression of interest.

It was obvious that many there were only too happy to send their operatives in numbers on the training, however it was made loud and clear that the way in which training was provided will need to match the needs of the companies.  There were suggestions that the training be delivered over a number of weeks, including a combination of one day training and some parts carried out at the weekends. The cost of non-funded training after the pilot programme would also be an issue, as paying for an operatives time as well as paying for training would be too much for many small contractors and house builders.

It was also made clear that they didn’t want their workers “falling asleep” at training, and that the course should be engaging and valuable.  Participants should bring back real learning and improvement in quality to the site. It was suggested that training materials be made available ahead of the training so that operatives could engage with the materials and have real-world site problems to be answered at the training.

It is clear that there will be no issue getting the message out to the best contractors on the need to upskill their workers and sub-contractors. These people get it!  The question is, how do we reach the ones that don’t…

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Presentation by Seamus Hoyne below

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