Upskilling of construction workforce crucial to achieve a compliance culture.


Pat Barry, Architect & Sustainable Development Consultant: 20th October 2014

Upskilling of construction workforce crucial to achieve a compliance culture.

How often have you heard the expression on site “ aaah jaysus ….this is the way I have always done it”  Well you are not alone. Construction workers are not known for filling in their CPD points at the end of October.  Is this all about to change?

At the recent conference Better than Best Practice  Zoe Wildiers of the European commission spoke about the need to tackle the lack of skills among Europe’s three million strong construction workforce, if we are to  meet the energy efficiency targets set by the EU. But she added it was not just construction workers but Architects, Engineers and other Construction professionals , who also lacked basic skills and knowledge in energy efficiency.

It was also  interesting to hear Thorston Windmueller of Kozmet,  speak  of his experience of training Irish Craft workers in their facility in Germany under the EU project CESBEM. Whilst the German craft workers understood basic building science and could carry out simple condensation risk analysis whilst the Irish construction workers did not. They also lacked understanding of the importance of quality and attention to detail in achieving energy efficient construction.

The Build Up Skills report from 2014 found that Irish trades do have the the ability and skills to build to high quality. They just lacked the knowledge to put this together in a systems thinking way, with the other trades. It also found construction workers were confused by terms such as green or energy efficient, but  they did understand the term “quality”

Qualibuild is an EU funded programme made up of a consortium of Blanchardstown, Dublin and Limerick Institutes of Technology, the Irish Construction Federation and the Irish Green Building Council  – to provide foundation energy courses  in energy efficiency to trades and operatives. These are not designed to turn trades such as plumbers, electricians, plasterers, bricklayers etc. into passive house experts. The idea is to create a mind altering change over three days …. but without the drugs!  We want to create thinking members of an onsite collective delivering a damn fine building.  We want to give them the collective goal of QUALITY!

This is a pilot programme with the intention that it will become a requirement like safe pass for all construction workers.The programme will be accompanied by a communications campaign to house owners on what quality means in construction. This is intended to equip them with the language to ask trades the right questions and demand the right result.

With the new, Construction Industry Register Ireland  (CIRI) requiring contractors on the register to upskill all of their staff at every level, including engineers, site managers, foremen and site operatives, we may just start to get a more educated workforce.

The next time you hear the expression, “ …this is the way I have always done it” and you are pondering your liability under BC(A)R just say ……

 About the author: Patrick Barry

Architect & Sustainable Development Consultant

Patrick Barry (Dip.Arch, M.Sc. MRIAI, Dip. Project Man), is an architect with twenty years experience in architectural practice in France, Germany and South America, working with leading architectural practices in Ireland on residential, mixed use, social housing, healthcare and education. He holds a Masters in Environmental Design of Buildings from University of Cardiff, and has completed studies in Leadership in Strategic Sustainability, He is a Certified European passive house designer, and a qualified DGNB international auditor,  He is currently executive director of the Irish Green Building Council

Other posts of interest:

Part L compliance – Who wants a building control service provided by cowboys?

Notes from the (thermal) edge: Part L Compliance (2 of 2)

Part L compliance issues – S.I.9 (1 of 2)

Design Certifiers – 3 things about certifying Part L… 

Why the design certifier and architect need third party building fabric assessments

Opinion piece: new building regulations and materials risk analysis

SI.9 and Part L | Specialist ancillary certifiers Part 2

SI.9 and Part L | Are specialist ancillary certifiers needed? Part 1 

Sound advice and SI.9 – PART 1

Dispensations and Transition Arrangements

Practical Post 10: No retrospective compliance – BC(A)R SI.9

Practical Post 13: Duties & conflicts- BC(A)R SI.9 

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