The wind-energy sector, which already employs 3,400 people in Ireland and expects to invest €4.7bn between now and 2020, says 60pc of its members will be seeking construction and engineering workers in the year ahead.
Dublin: 10.12.2013 10.20PM
Gaelectric Group and the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) have set up a new course called KidWind to educate teachers and students about the benefits of Ireland’s wind energy resources and future clean energy potential.
Earlier this week, Irish energy storage group Gaelectric announced it was partnering with the Chinese wind turbine manufacturer XEMC Group to co-develop three new wind farms in Ireland, valued at €18m.
With the IWEA projecting that Ireland's renewable energy sector is on track to create about 28,000 green-collar jobs by 2020, the association says the KidWind course could also help fix Ireland's skills deficit in science and maths, thus supporting economic recovery.
KidWind itself is a new training course for teachers that will aim to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of Ireland's enormous reserves of renewable energy so they can teach their own students about wind energy and provide knowledge about the industry.
The course, which has its genesis in the US, is aimed at teachers of science, maths and geography, although teachers of other subjects often attend.
Twelve teachers from schools in Louth, Cavan, Dublin and Mayo are currently attending the first-ever KidWind course in Ireland that started on 15 August. The CREDIT research centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology is delivering the training.
Training is given during a five-day course covering theory and practical wind energy topics at the appropriate level so teachers can become confident in delivering courses in wind energy to primary and second level students.
Speaking at the official launch of KidWind in Dundalk today, IWEA CEO Michael Walsh said Ireland has the potential to create 28,000 jobs in renewable energy by 2020.
"However, any lack of synergy between our energy and education policies could jeopardise the delivery of these jobs."
"To realise this potential, it is crucial that we support our educators in their skills and understanding of Ireland's cutting-edge technology in the wind-energy industry.
"We also believe that improving the general understanding of the renewable-energy sector, and its ability to generate jobs, will create the incentive and student demand for maths and science subjects where Ireland's international performance and ranking has slipped.," added Walsh.
Fergus O'Dowd, TD, Minister of State, said today that with the move away from fossil fuels, renewable energy will increase "dramatically" in Ireland and all over Europe in the coming decades.
"This expansion will provide economic opportunities and will be one of the areas where job opportunities of the future will come from.
"The ultimate aim of the KidWind initiative is to raise young peoples' awareness of the new technologies and help them identify the skills that will be required to develop their silks in using such technologies, so they can transfer them into the workplace."
Photo: The 12 teachers from schools in Louth, Cavan, Dublin and Mayo who are attending the first-ever KidWind course in Ireland that started on 15 August. The training is being delivered by the CREDIT research centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology