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Investment in Skills for the Midlands Region

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gov.ieInvestment in Skills for the Midlands Region


Minister Harris announces significant investment in skills for the Midlands region


Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD today (Monday) announced a significant investment in skills for the Midlands region.

During a visit to the National Construction Training Centre in Mount Lucas, Co Offaly, Minister Harris:

  • Launched Ireland’s first ever Scaffolding Apprenticeship programme;
  • Announced that Laois & Offaly ETB has secured approval to develop a proposal which will deliver significant additional capacity at their retrofitting and Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) training facility;
  • And turned the sod on a new Demonstration Park for Modern Methods of Construction, a key action in the Government’s Housing for All programme.

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “I was thrilled to be here to formally launch the country’s first ever scaffolding apprenticeship, to announce the new Demonstration Park for Modern Methods of Construction, and to congratulate Laois & Offaly ETB on succeeding on the next step towards increasing capacity at their retrofitting and NZEB Training Centre.

“With the addition of the Demonstration Park this will now become the National Construction Training Campus. 

“This new and exciting apprenticeship programme was developed primarily to address skills shortages in scaffolding across the country. We know the country is crying out for people with the skills to build houses and this is yet another step towards delivering on our targets under the Government’s Housing for All strategy.

“But the apprenticeship was also designed to improve health and safety conditions for construction workers as data from the Health and Safety Authority shows nearly half of fatal accidents on building sites involved falls from heights.

“It is our duty to ensure workers have the skills and training to work to the highest standards, and that they remain safe while doing so.”

Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins added: “The Government is committed to delivering the housing the country needs, but in order to make this happen we need people with the skills to build them.

“This new apprenticeship, and the other positive announcements for Laois & Offaly ETB today, are really important steps on the path to ensuring we have a highly knowledgeable and skill workforce in the building sector.

“These developments will benefit Government policy including the Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021 – 2025, Housing for All and the National Retrofit Plan.”

The Mount Lucas proposal to increase capacity at its retrofitting and NZEB training facility is the first project approved to progress to the next stage of development under the Strategic Infrastructure Fund (SIUF) programme call which was launched earlier this year. A number of other projects will be announced in the coming weeks.

The next stage will be the appointment of a Design Team by Laois & Offaly ETB to bring the project through the design and planning process. 

Targeted capital investment will also support the transformation agenda across the FET sector and ensure our campuses are flexible and future-proofed.

Minister Harris said: “This expansion will focus on increasing training capacity for Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) skills and allow us to better respond to the critical skills gaps in the construction sector in particular retrofit and modern methods of construction.  The campus will provide for the development of real pathways in the Further Education and Training and Higher Education sectors while also continuing to provide special awards for upskilling the current workforce.”

“Mount Lucas has and continues to play a leading role in the area of retrofitting training programmes.  A centre of excellence in this area, it has played a key role in responding to training needs for the counties of Laois and Offaly and surrounding areas.  It continues to play a critical role in ensuring that we have a skilled workforce to meet head on the challenges we face as a country under the Climate Action agenda. 

“This next phase of investment will position the sector to cater for rising demand for those seeking to reskill and upskill throughout their lives.”

“I would like to thank SOLAS who have worked closely with my Department in the assessment of these projects and their continued work in bringing projects to the next phase of development.”

Linking in with the development of the scaffolding apprenticeship, a key action in Housing for All, the Government’s housing plan to 2030, is the development of sustainable innovation in the residential construction sector.

The creation of the Demonstration Park at Mount Lucas will illustrate Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in response to this.

Minister Harris added: “This Demonstration Park will facilitate the showcasing of innovative MMC products and systems, and in particular those that will directly impact our housing sector for the better.


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