National apprenticeships play an important role in developing skills to support sustainable building and energy practices. Curricula in apprenticeships are being updated on an ongoing basis to keep pace with changes in building practices and building regulations. Sustainability and energy efficiency were key topics of recent curricular reviews of construction apprenticeship programmes, including Plumbing, Electrical, Carpentry and Joinery, Stonecutting & Stonemasonry and Brick & Stonelaying and relevant skills are now included in the programmes. New apprenticeships being developed in wind turbine maintenance and scaffolding will include best practice in green technology.
The All of Government Plan to Tackle Climate Disruption contains actions relevant to education and training in the area of retrofitting and my Department is engaging with partner Departments and agencies to ensure delivery.
Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) Skills Specifications have been developed by Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board with support from a range of organisations, including third level institutions, construction sector representative bodies, Government Departments and other agencies. The specifications cover areas such as airtightness and fabric and ventilation for new build and retrofitting of existing buildings. A dedicated NZEB Training centre is now established in Wexford and is currently providing 10 NZEB training programmes to existing construction workers in areas such as plumbing, electrical, bricklaying, carpentry and plastering. As of the end of October 2019, 322 people received NZEB training.
Construction skills are also being targeted through Springboard, further education and training programmes and other initiatives. A number of current traineeship programmes include components that are relative to eco-friendly/sustainable training topics including traineeships in wind turbine maintenance and interior systems.
In addition, the Generation Apprenticeship competition 2019-2020, which has been extended to second level schools, has a sustainability theme. The second level teams will enter designs that are made from landfill materials, and there will be prizes for second level and apprentice teams that demonstrate potential and commitment to sustainability in an engaging and innovative way.