A full house was in attendance at an energetic event titled ‘decarbonising our built environment – making sure we have the right skills’ held at the aptly named 1 Windmill Lane on Dublin’s docklands on February 16th 2023. Jointly hosted by Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) and Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) marking the completion of the EU Horizon funded BUSLeague programme in Ireland, the event brought together members of the public, construction companies, workers and suppliers along with the education sector, policy makers and government departments to discuss and debate construction skills.
The panel discussion was expertly navigated by IGBC’s Marion Jammet who has been instrumental in the delivery of BUSLeague in Ireland from the beginning (2020). A fast paced panel discussion centred around questions relating to ambitious targets, challenges to upskilling, consumer engagement, building trust and the need for both more construction workers and more upskilling. Chadwick’s DIY store, who participated in the implementation of the BUSLeague project, CEO Patrick Atkinson spoke of the evolution of interest from both trade and householders in energy efficient materials over the past 10 years and the constant need to upskill Chadwick’s employees. Dr Alan Power who is a member of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), an independent, non-statutory body comprising representatives from business, the education and training sector, the enterprise development sector, the trade unions and government departments spoke in particular about construction skills being in transition and that the future lies in greater digital supports for construction. The EGFSN plays a key role in identifying current and future skills needs of enterprises and advising the Irish Government on these needs.
Alan Cawley, of major building company Sisk, spoke of the need to have in-house staff trained as sustainability champions on every building site (they currently have 80 sites in Ireland) and Eloise Heron of the Society of Chartered Surveyors spoke of the need for career guidance in secondary education to encourage greater take up of construction courses at third level and of the need to support greater female participation in construction roles in general. Seamus Hoyne recounted over 10 years of Build Up Skills (BUS) endeavours in Ireland and described how TUS’s new collaborative hub for upskilling, DASBE (Digital Academy for Sustainable Skills in the Built Environment), has developed 20 new sustainability programmes in 2 years delivered through a mixture of online, blended, face to face and practical training before he left the event to deliver an online lecture on the residential energy retrofit programme in a back room, while the crowd continued the evening, enjoying refreshments, mingling with guest speakers, IGBC and TUS BUSLeague teams and invited guests.
- Seamus Hoyne – Dean of Flexible and Work Place Learning, Technological University of the Shannon
- Alan Power – Assistant Principal/Senior Policy Analyst for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
- Eloise Heron – Sustainability Group, SCSI
- Alan Cawley – Senior Sustainability Manager, Sisk
- Patrick Atkinson, CEO, Chadwicks Group