Dublin’s ancient city wall provided the backdrop yesterday to a conference’Better than Best Practice’ on the urgent need to upskill Irish Construction Workers. Zoe Wildiers of the European commission stated that the commission is seeking to address the lack of skills amongst Europe’s 3 million strong construction workforce, to be able meet the stringent energy efficiency targets set by the EU. However she also stated that it was not just construction workers, who lacked the skills but Architects, Engineers and other Construction professionals. The next phase of European funding under Horizon 2020 will seek to tackle lack of knowledge in this sector.
Torsten Windmueller of Komzet, spoke of his experience of training Irish Craft workers in their facility in Germany. There were key differences between the knowledge and training of Irish Craft workers and their German counterparts. Whilst the German craft workers understood the issues caused by poor installation of insulation, in causing condensation and mould growth, which can lead to damage to property and occupant’s health, 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.
Seamus Hoyne of Limerick Institute of Technology who are leading a pilot project – Qualibuild -to upskill construction workers in energy efficiency, set out how the programme will address the deficit in construction worker’s knowledge. This will achieve some of the objectives set out in the Government 2020 strategy for the construction industry. One of the key findings of extensive consultation with the industry, was the need to use the right language. Whilst construction workers were confused by terms such as green or energy efficient, they did understand the term “quality” Training under the scheme will commence in early 2015
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. This will require contractors on the register to upskill all of their staff at every level, including engineers, site managers, foremen and site operatives. He stated that the Qualibuild programme will provide essential foundation energy training to construction workers, giving those who attend a competitive edge in the market.