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Minister Harris opens Green Skills Summit focusing on Ireland’s transition to a green economy

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (Wednesday, 23rd March) opened the first ever FET Green Skills Summit.

The summit is being held in Wexford County Hall by SOLAS, ETBI and Waterford Wexford ETB (Education and Training Board).

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “Today is an important step in our response to the challenge of climate change and the targets we have set for ourselves at a national level.

“For it is a significant challenge and there’s no getting away from that.

“We have to make sure that we have the right training on offer and that we are attracting people to avail of places.

“There is no shortage of availability. Attracting people to participate is the challenge we face.

“That’s why the offering developed here in WWETB is so important. It’s fast and flexible. We’re not asking people to take months or even years out of their careers to develop the skills in question.

“Instead, you have developed a pragmatic solution which means people can be upskilled in a matter of days for the most part and even online in some cases. And as if that wasn’t enough, the courses are free.”

The conference will hear the green economy is an area of opportunities. The key challenge will be upskilling and reskilling for changes to existing roles, while new green jobs will be a smaller subset.

The conference will hear there will be an increased demand for professionals in areas of renewable Energy, Electric mechanics, andHeat Pump Installer, Domestic Solar PV installer, and Retrofit Engineer.

Speaking today ahead of the event Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS, remarked: “We have planned this Summit to take a proactive look at the skills needs of industry and to explore how best further education and training can meet these needs.

“The Climate Action Plan published in 2021 has set ambitious targets for the decarbonisation of our economy and the transition to this new economy will require significant levels of skills across the country in a huge variety of sectors to come to fruition.

“At this Summit, we look forward to presenting on and discussing how the further education and training sector can expand on the work we are already doing to equip people across Ireland with the right skills to contribute to the transition to a greener economy.”

As well as opening addresses from Minister Harris and Andrew Brownlee, CEO of SOLAS among others, the programme for the day will include:

  • An overview of national and international green skills research from the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in SOLAS
  • A briefing from industry leaders on the green and sustainable business environment and future skills needs to deliver on green commitments,
  •   A panel discussion on how best the FET sector can meet the skills needs of the future and support the transition to a green future for Ireland.

Fiona Maloney, Director of Further Education and Training, ETBI said: “Ireland’s Education & Training Boards are ideally positioned to meet the skills demands of the green economy. We have over 50 green skills programmes delivered across our sector and NZEB Training Centres of Excellence in Waterford & Wexford and Laois & Offaly ETBs, with three more to follow in Limerick & Clare, Cork, and Mayo, Sligo & Leitrim ETBs.

“We will work closely with our SOLAS colleagues to support the implementation of the Green Skills for FET 2021-2030 Roadmap to ensure that our learners and trainees have the appropriate skills to both power Ireland’s green economy and access career opportunities.”