Environment

Innovation Centre helps deliver construction skills and training for Net Zero

UWTSD’s Construction Wales Innovation Centre (CWIC) is playing its part by delivering emerging skills and training initiatives to ensure the UK and Welsh government’s commitment to achieving Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is on track.

The construction industry will require the equivalent of 350,000 new roles to be created by 2028 and these will need to be found through a mix of new skilled jobs, increased efficiencies in existing roles, and innovation in how the industry decarbonises the built environment. That’s the key finding of Building Skills for Net Zero, published by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

Collaborative work is already being carried out by CWIC to ensure the Welsh construction sector has ready access to innovative training solutions.

A pan-Wales enterprise led by University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) Group and involving Coleg Sir Gar, Coleg Ceredigion, Coleg y Cymoedd and Coleg Cambria is ensuring that the Welsh construction sector has ready access to innovative training solutions nationally across Wales.

The hub and spoke delivery model of CWIC uses employer intelligence to make sure the right skills are in place to meet the current and future industry demand both reactively and proactively.

Spokes provide an integrated career development pathway between operatives, trades, and professional construction occupations, under guidance provided by the Swansea-based Hub. They actively work together and share best practices. This is contributing to new levels of collaborative working between the education sector (schools, FE, HE, and private providers) and the construction industry.

The CWIC building at Swansea’s SA1 waterfront (Image: UWTSD)

Gareth Wyn Evans, Construction Wales Innovation Centre Manager said: “The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Construction Wales Innovation Centre (CWIC) has been at the forefront of developing and delivering emerging skills and training initiatives in construction since its inception in September 2016.  CWIC’s Net Zero Skills Strategy is underpinned by a large amount of research and extensive industry engagement relating to the continued drive for modernisation and decarbonisation within the sector.  Welsh industry has a significant challenge in working towards Net Zero and CWIC’s work certainly shows how we can drive forward our industry and tackle the challenge head on.

“A big part of it will be upskilling the current and future workforce so that they all understand what Net-Zero construction means for the industry.

“To enable this, we at CWIC, in collaboration with Coleg Sir Gar are delivering a number of skills initiatives in areas such as Building Information Modelling and Drone Technology. Most recently, we have worked with a number of sector leading providers to develop a range of Retrofit programmes fit for Welsh Industry.  These programmes will be live in coming weeks and will give Welsh Industry direct access to the courses and qualifications delivered by Industry Experts.  This enables us to play our part in future-proofing construction skills.”

UK construction contributes approximately 40% of the UK’s emissions according to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) and reducing this to Net Zero represents a huge challenge. Yet the move to cleaner, greener construction presents big opportunities to make the industry more attractive to new recruits and upskill the existing workforce.

A critical element of achieving Net Zero will be reducing carbon emissions from existing buildings. Across the UK 80% of buildings in use in 2050 have already been built and these could represent 95% of future built environment emissions. Reducing emissions to Net Zero will require retrofit work on up to 27 million domestic and 2 million non-domestic buildings.

CITB has modelled the skills profile of the workforce needed to deliver Net Zero using data from the Climate Change Committee (CCC). This shows that by 2028, additional decarbonisation work will have created the demand for 86,000 construction project managers, 33,000 building envelope specialists and 59,000 plumbers and HVAC specialists.

This opportunity comes alongside the COVID-19 pandemic and an expected rise in unemployed workers coming from other sectors. This is a perfect time for the construction to position itself as a career destination of choice for people who really want to make a difference.

CITB’s research shows that reducing built environment emissions to Net Zero can be achieved if there is an industry-wide investment in skills, far-reaching skills policy reform and an unprecedented recruitment drive. The challenge is great, but so are the rewards, giving thousands of people new career opportunities as we emerge from a time of national crisis.

CITB Strategy and Policy Director Steve Radley said: “Net Zero presents a huge challenge for construction but an even greater opportunity to create a more productive industry that’s also a more attractive career option. 

“We can get there by being clear on the key skills we’ll need, making sure we have the right courses and qualifications to deliver them and getting on with investing in them. Industry is already delivering what is needed, but it needs to happen at scale. The training sector must act now as employers’ needs will change fast. A joined-up approach to skills across the built environment is key.

“Government also has a key role in specifying what it wants and creating the pipeline of demand that will give industry the confidence to invest in the skills we need and for providers to invest in the courses we need to deliver these skills.” 

The CITB’s report is published to compliment the CLC Skills Plan, which sets out industry action to modernise and decarbonise skills, and CO2nstructZero, a collaborative industry change programme to deliver Net Zero.

Find out more here:  https://cwic.wales/cwic-events/

(Lead image: UWTSD)


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