To meet growing demand for energy-efficient buildings, the CraftEdu project developed an e-learning platform that helps to ensure the availability of the right skills amongst on-site workers and vocational schools.
Achieving greener building standards, such as nearly zero-energy buildings or deep renovations, relies on specialist skills amongst construction professionals. The EU-supported project CraftEdu (Setting up national qualification and training scheme for craftsmen in the Czech Republic and developing the further offer of training courses in Slovakia, Austria and Bulgaria) has developed training and qualifications in energy efficiency and renewable energy, mainly in Czechia and Slovakia.
“COVID-19 restrictions spurred us on to increase the online component of our training,” explains project coordinator Jiří Karásek, from the SEVEn, The Energy Efficiency Center. “Our interactive e-learning platform now includes over 50 training videos and around 20 e-learning modules, with regular online consultations between trainers and students. We have had good levels of engagement, with one training video for electricians already receiving over 550 views.”
CraftEdu built on the achievements of the previous StavEdu project in Slovakia, which had stimulated a dialogue between policymakers, vocational trainers and employers, about how to deliver the construction skills needed to meet the EU’s 2020 energy targets.
StavEdu led to a voluntary initiative called Building Future, established in Slovakia, for the training of professionals working on energy efficiency solutions and the use of renewables. CraftEdu extended this initiative to Czechia.
Reaching educational and professional stakeholders
CraftEdu set out to provide a full qualification package for seven established professions key to energy-efficient buildings, in construction or renovation.
In Czechia, these were heating, ventilation and air conditioning installers, carpenters, low-voltage electricians, high-voltage electricians, hydro-insulators, stove and chimney builders, inspecting technicians and window installers. In Slovakia the initiative targeted carpenters, low-voltage electricians, high-voltage electricians, hydro-insulators and window installers.
Development of the training modules involved trainers and vocational schools already developing training courses, alongside Czech and Slovak ministries and construction associations, guilds and chambers of commerce, including the Czech Technical University in Prague and the Association of Construction Entrepreneurs in both countries.
“While the project initially aimed for just one e-learning programme, given our pivot to e-learning, we developed around 20, increasing the project’s impact,” says Karásek. “We had over 370 registered participants, and interest was really strong across the portfolio.”
Those who successfully completed a course in Czechia or Slovakia received the CraftEdu learning certificate. Over 280 craftspeople had completed courses by autumn 2021.
The CraftEdu courses and support can be accessed after registration in the CraftEdu database which is available in four languages (Czech, Slovak, German and Bulgarian), with most of the training available in Czech and Slovak.
Enticing young people into 'green growth' careers
CraftEdu’s programme contributes directly to EU efforts to create green growth jobs, by offering training and qualifications in an industry tasked with delivering energy efficiency as part of the European Green Deal.
“Crucially, by designing training which is engaging and modern, CraftEdu helps to attract young people who are starting out in their careers,” adds Karásek.
The team continues to collaborate with ministries, construction companies and schools to further develop the training schemes. It is also working to integrate the platform within the curricula of vocational schools in Czechia and Slovakia.
Working with construction associations, the team has influenced policy, such as proposing an upgrade to qualification standards in Czechia, while the new Slovakia building code will be introduced with support from project partner ZSPS (website in Slovak).
The team continues its policy work within the EU-funded DoubleDecker (website in Czech, Slovak, German and Bulgarian) project in Czechia and Slovakia, alongside further BUILD UP Skills projects in Austria (Reboot BUILD UP Skills Austria) and Bulgaria (BUILD UP Skills Bulgaria 2030).
“Those projects will update analyses of the current situation, leading to renewal of national qualification platforms and development of national road maps for each country,” adds Karásek.