Conference hears of urgent need to upskill Irish construction workers
Dublin’s old city wall in Woodquay provided the backdrop on Wednesday 15 October to a conference, titled 'Better Than Best Practice', on the urgent need to upskill the Irish construction industry.
Addressing the conference, Zoe Wildiers of the European Commission said the commission is seeking to address the lack of skills among Europe’s three million workers, to enable them to meet stringent energy efficiency targets set by the EU.
She also stated that it was not just construction workers that lacked skills and knowledge but architects, engineers and other construction professionals. The next phase of European funding under the Horizon 2020 programme will now seek to tackle lack of knowledge in these sectors.
Thoston Windmueller of Komzet, a German centre of excellent in timber frame construction, spoke of his experience training Irish construction workers under the EU project CESBEM.
Windmueller said that while his German students understood the issues caused by poor installation of insulation, such as condensation and mould growth, he noticed that Irish construction workers did not. There was also a lack of understanding around the importance of quality and attention to detail in achieving energy efficient construction among his Irish students.
Seamus Hoyne of Limerick Institute of Technology, which is leading a pilot project, Qualibuild, to upskill construction workers in energy efficiency, set out how the programme will address the deficit in knowledge. Hoyne said that one of the key findings of extensive consultation with the industry, was the need to use the right language. While construction workers were confused by terms such as “green” or “energy efficient”, they did understand the term “quality” .
The impact of the new Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) was presented by Robert Butler of the Construction Industry Federation. Registration is expected to become mandatory for contractors in 2015.
This is aimed at changing the public perception of the construction industry, and will require contractors on the register to upskill all of their staff at every level, including engineers, site managers, foremen and site operatives. Butler stated that the Qualibuild programme will provide essential foundation energy training to construction workers, giving those who attend a competitive edge in the market.
Training for construction workers under the scheme will commence in April 2015. Training has already commenced for construction trainers to deliver the programme. QualiBuild was established in November 2013 as part of wider efforts to create employment in the construction sector and to assist Ireland in achieving the EU 2020 energy efficiency targets.