Cork College of FET Bishopstown Campus welcomed Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris T.D, to the centre on Monday to official open the new Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) and Retrofitting Centre of Excellence. The new centre, run by Cork Education and Training Board, joins other existing Centres of Excellence operated by Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB), Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) and Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB).
The Centre will offer training to approximately 1,500 learners annually. Training will consist of NZEB Electrical, Plastering, Plumbing, Bricklaying, and Carpentry, Retrofit Skills and External Wall Insulation (EWI) complemented by training in NZEB fundamentals, Air Tightness, Ventilation and Insulation. This will be further enhanced via upskilling courses in Solar and Heat Pump Technologies. The 1,000 square metre training facility will provide skills training for individuals who are unemployed and for individuals currently working in construction wishing to upskill. The centre will contribute significantly to national policy priorities on Housing for All including housing construction, retrofitting of homes, and carbon reduction. This is in line with the Government target of retrofitting 500,000 homes in Ireland by 2030.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to officially open this new Centre of Excellence here in Cork. “This is a really exciting time for skills provision and training in the Munster region and this new centre in Bishopstown will play a crucial role in this. “Learners will be able to access the skills training needed to achieve the Government’s target of retrofitting 500,000 homes to BER B2 rating by 2030. “These courses are free to attend whether you are already working in the construction industry or are new to the sector.
“They are also flexible meaning courses can be taken in the evening or at weekends. This new centre will give learners the best possible chance to succeed in their careers while delivering significant benefits for the region. “It may be challenging to attract people to undertake training and education in emerging skills areas related to the new green economy. “That is why during this European Year of Skills, I am encouraging everyone to take up a new skill. “We are funding many reskilling and upskilling initiatives so that we can grow the economy and bridge skills gaps.
“These courses are fast, flexible and free. I would encourage anyone working in construction to future proof their qualifications and take up one of these courses.”
CEO of SOLAS, Andrew Brownlee stated “We welcome the new NZEB Centre of Excellence in Bishopstown as a significant development in further expanding the national training infrastructure available to deliver on critical NZEB and retrofitting commitments in how we build and maintain houses. “The skills provided by the centre by Cork ETB will be essential in the green transition and in realising climate action targets. “It is now one of four centres fully up and running across the country, with two more to come later this year.
“Our pledge at SOLAS is to provide every FET learner with the green skills and sustainability awareness to allow them to serve as agents of change on climate action.” Chief Executive of Cork ETB, Denis Leamy added “The opening of this Centre of Excellence this marks Cork ETB’s commitment to contributing to the development of a wide range of skills and competencies that will support the governments “green” agenda, and the embedding of a sustainable development focus in further education and training courses in the future. We made a deliberate decision to site this centre here at our Bishopstown Campus, alongside our craft apprenticeship delivery, to ensure that all phase 2 craft apprentices passing through the centre can complete NZEB training in parallel with their apprenticeship activities. Our current cohort of apprentices will all have completed the NZEB fundamentals course by the end of their current training block in June”.
Following on from the development of a national network of Centres of Excellence in NZEB and Retrofitting, the number of learners availing of these training opportunities has risen since the first centre opened in 2020. Numbers have increased from 363 to 793 enrolments in 2021, to a record 2,034 enrolments in 2022. So far, enrolments from January to the end of April this year are 930. SOLAS plans to have a cumulative total of 4,550 trainees complete NZEB training by the end of 2023.
Visit www,bishopstowncampus.ie for further information and assistance.