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26 Sept 2022

Laois Offaly body spearheads new national training hub for builders

New national centre opened by Laois Offaly Education and Training Board

Laois Offaly body spearheads new national training hub for builders

Minister Simon Harris cuts the ribbon. Pic Paul Moore

A Laois Offaly training body is leading the way nationally with the announcement of a new hub for construction that will be part of the aim to tackle the housing shortage.

To be located at the National Construction Training Centre in Offaly, the announcement of the National Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) Demonstration Park, was made on the same day by Minister Simon Harris who launches the new National Scaffolding Apprenticeship in Mount Lucas.

The Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) is spearheading the new Park. It welcomed Minister Harris to the national training centre on Monday, July 18.

Phase One of the Demonstration Park will consist of a street of 10 building ‘pads’ with additional space available for future development. An Open Competition will be held inviting construction companies to build on the pads exhibiting the latest construction technologies and innovative methods in residential construction.

A Project Management Group has been established and will provide inter-departmental oversight of the development of the National Demonstration Park.

The Government's Housing For All strategy sets out a number of measures to support and promote the development of MMC in Ireland, including the establishment of a National Demonstration Park which it is claimed will be an accessible and interactive built resource for applied research, training, and demonstration.

Joe Cunningham is the Chief Executive of LOETB

"The expansion of facilities at Mount Lucas, including the Scaffolding Apprenticeship and the National MMC Demonstration Park will ensure that LOETB and Mount Lucas continues to meet the current and future skills needs of the construction sector.

"The cross-Government approach, and continued collaboration with SOLAS and the CIF will make an important contribution to successfully meeting the Housing for All targets," he said.

Minister Harris said he was delighted to formally launch the Scaffolding Apprenticeship and to announce the new Modern Methods of Construction Demonstration Park.

“I’m also happy to share the news the Centre will be expanding as I’ve approved our first project under the Strategic Investment Upgrade Fund for the NZEB Centre.  The Governments Housing for All (HfA) Strategy provides a commitment to promoting a culture of compliant, good quality sustainable innovation in residential construction through development of
Modern Methods of Construction (MMC)," he said.

Minister Harris added: “We need up to 51,000 more workers to deliver on the Government Climate Action Plan and Housing for All. That’s why centres like this are critical for all of us.”

"So this is a good day. But it’s also a really important day not just for Mount Lucas and LOETB, but for your country.
“Put in the simplest terms, our country needs you, the work you do and the skills you develop, in order to overcome our biggest challenges," he said.

Former Laois Offaly TD Tom Parlon is now the Director General of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). He welcomed the development.

“The CIF welcomes the launch of the Housing for All Demonstration Park, and the advanced training facility for Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). This denotes a significant investment by the Department through SOLAS and should help to drive further awareness, technical capability, and increase the capacity in our sector towards the use of MMC. Housing for All demands a new approach to housing delivery and these facilities will be instrumental in driving the utilisation of modern technologies to achieve our housing goals.

"We wish to acknowledge the rapid steps being taken to deliver this centre, while also flagging the need for a national Modern Methods of Construction Centre, that truly supports the wider construction sector,” he said.

Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS added praise for LOETB.

"The announcement serves to highlight the excellent work that the team at Laois Offaly ETB is doing here at the Construction Training Centre, across a diverse range of critical construction, retrofit and NZEB skills provision - all of which ladders directly
up to key national priorities and targets in the Government’s Housing for All plan.

"All of the exciting innovation happening here at Mount Lucas will work towards achieving our shared goal of supporting the entrance of skilled learners to the workforce, and in doing so, support industry partners in reinvigorating and modernising the construction trade we have here in Ireland,” he said.

The new Scaffolding Apprenticeship, which was officially launched by Minister Harris, was developed with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) as consortium lead along with Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB). The Consortium Steering Group (CSG) comprised of the National Association of Scaffolding & Access Contractors (NASAC), SIPTU, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and had representation from the scaffolding contractors from the Scaffolders
Together Association.

The Scaffolding Apprenticeship is a QQI Level 5 accredited programme run over two years with 20 weeks training on site in The National Construction Training Centre at Mount Lucas. The aim of the apprenticeship is to provide a national standard for the construction industry, improve health and safety and recognise scaffolding as a craft. Modules cover all elements of Scaffolding from design to dismantling. Elements included range from BIM for Scaffolders, to Toolbox Talks and Working on
Complex Structures.

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