Work begins on 'Green Growth', to improve training in circular economy skills in the construction industry
The consortium of this European Erasmus+ project, led by Fundación Laboral, made up of seven partners from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia and Italy, held its first meeting on January 13rd.
With the European Climate Law, the European Union (EU) has extended the objective of reducing carbon emissions by 2030 - currently at 40 % compared to 1990 - to at least 55 %. And the European Commission is considering proposing an intermediate target for 2040, with the aim of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
For this target, the building sector has a key role to play for three main reasons. Firstly, it is responsible for 36 % of all emissions, 40 % of energy consumption, 50 % of extracted materials and 21 % of extracted water. On the other hand, the sector has been identified as one of the main areas of intervention, with actions and tools that directly affect it within the European Green Deal (Wave of renewal, Level(s), the new European Bauhaus...). And finally, the building and construction sector has a huge economic impact: according to the Green Building Council, at European level, the construction sector accounts for 18 million jobs.
Moreover, the Circular Economy Action Plan identifies, since 2015, construction and buildings as key product value chains for the circular economy and supports measures that will have a profound impact on the skills and competences needed in professionals, especially at the demolition stage - during dismantling, reuse, recovery or disposal of building materials - according to the European Construction Sector Observatory (ECSO).
Training as a response to European challenges
In this context, where the demands for professional skills are evolving very rapidly, Vocational Education and Training (VET) in construction is a key player in responding to such labour market demands: the increase in green building construction and sustainable waste management; changes in the regulation of material waste and pollutant emissions that have triggered new practices and the adoption of technological advances; or other transformations linked to circular economy policies, such as off-site manufacturing and the modernisation of power plants to contribute to energy efficiency targets.
All of these will affect the demand for labour in the construction sector and workers need to learn new skills to work with innovative 'green' materials and techniques, as well as to put in place the necessary strategies to minimise waste production in their operations.
It is this aspect of circular economy skills training in construction that was launched by partners in the European Green Growth project, an Erasmus+ initiative, led by the Fundación Laboral de la Construcción, and involving six other partners from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia and Italy.
The Green Growth consortium expects a handbook for VET trainers in construction to be ready by this Summer: "Circular Economy in Practice". By Autumn/Winter 2021, a free online course (MOOC) on circular economy competences for VET trainers in construction is likely to be launched. By Spring/Summer 2022, a mobile application (app) on circular economy in building renovation works is expected to be advanced. And by Winter 2022, a roadmap for the delivery of circular and sustainable construction training will be available.
These results will join those of other initiatives on circular economy and sustainable construction that the Labour Foundation is currently working on, including: Construction Blueprint, Health and Safety Blueprint, Construye 2020+, Bus.Trainers, CDWaste-ManageVET, RCDi Green, Si!BIM or Icons.