22 May 2023
By Bryan McCarthy
Minister Harris opens new NZEB and Retrofit Centre of Excellence in Cork
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today officially opened the new Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) and Retrofit Centre of Excellence in Cork.
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).
Speaking today, 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.”
SOLAS CEO Andrew Brownlee said: “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.”
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.
Those interested in enrolling in these courses can find out more details by visiting gov.ie/therightcourse
The NZEB Retrofit Centre of Excellence in Bishopstown will offer training in a range of different areas.
The NZEB Fundamental Awareness course is open to all learners looking to learn more about the area.
While those in employment and wishing to upskill will be able to do so through courses in NZEB Electrical, NZEB Plastering, NZEB Plumbing, NZEB Bricklaying, NZEB Carpentry complemented by training in Retrofit Insulation Skills, NZEB External Wall Insulation and NZEB Airtightness and Vapour Control Installer (AVCI).
This will be further enhanced via upskilling courses in Solar and Heat Pump Technologies.
The new NZEB and Retrofitting Centre of Excellence in Cork College of FET Bishopstown Campus will offer training to approximately 1,500 learners annually.
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.