Mount Lucas has been announced as the site for Ireland’s National Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) Demonstration Park. The National Construction Training Centre will be home to the new MMC park, which is being supported under the House for All strategy.
The Government says it has committed to promoting a culture of compliant and sustainable innovation in residential construction through the development of MMC. The park, which was officially announced by Minister Simon Harris in July, will help provide an accessible and interactive built resource for applied research, training and demonstration.
The new demo park has been welcomed by the CIF as a step towards driving awareness, capacity and technical capability across the wider construction sector.
CIF Director General Tom Parlon said: “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.”
A Project Management Group has now been established and will provide inter-departmental oversight of the park’s development. Phase One will include 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.
Minister Harris, who was joined at the announcement by members of the Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board and students from the National Construction Training Centre, said: “This 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.”
SOLAS CEO Andrew Brownlee described the announcement as testament to the innovation taking place at Mount Lucas.
“It serves to highlight the excellent work that the team at Laois and 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,” he said.
“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.”
Pictured belwo are some of those who attended the MMC Demonstration Park announcement by Minister Simon Harris at Mount Lucas in July. Photos: Paul Moore Photography
Recognising scaffolding as a craft
A QQI Level 5 Scaffolding Apprenticeship has also been launched at Mount Lucas.
Announcing the new training scheme, Minister Simon Harris said: “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. I am delighted to be here to formally launch the Scaffolding Apprenticeship and 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 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 is to provide a national standard for the industry, improve health and safety and recognise scaffolding as a craft. Modules cover all elements of scaffolding from design to dismantling with elements ranging from BIM for Scaffolders to Toolbox Talks and Working on Complex Structures.
LOETB Chief Executive Joe Cunningham said: “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.’
The new apprenticeship has been developed with the CIF as consortium lead, alongside LOETB. The Consortium Steering Group comprised of the National Association of Scaffolding & Access Contractors, SIPTU, the Health and Safety Authority and representation from the Scaffolders Together Association.
“This apprenticeship will greatly contribute to the raising of standards in the industry and ensure that working at height is carried out safely and by competent contractors,” said CIF Director General Tom Parlon.
“I would personally like to acknowledge the hard work undertaken by the stakeholders involved and wish the students every success in their journey to occupational excellence.”