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The nZEB and the construction crafts: one goal, too many roads to achieving it?

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The CraftEdu project sets up a blueprint in the efforts for mutual recognition of qualifications in the construction sector


Just a few months away from the obligatory entry into force of the nZEB requirements in all EU countries, there is still no common recognition of what the perfect nZEB is - and even less, what skills are needed to build it in a proper way. And while a common EU definition would hardly be productive and is probably not to be expected at all, we do need an integrated approach when honing up the skills of the workforce to deliver high-quality nZEBs. As we all know well – probably much too well –- even the best design can be compromised by poor craftsmanship, and for the time being, there are no guarantees that a craftsman trained in a given European country would be able to fulfill the standards in any other.


This is where the concept of “mutual recognition” of qualifications acquired in the building sector comes into play, with already a lot of attempts to force progress in different countries considering various crafts and professions. Without much success, one may argue: the task is not easy indeed, and the motivation of many involved actors vanquishes when they are confronted with the variety in national standards, definitions, building typologies, measurement methodologies, educational systems, and even construction traditions.


A small Horizon 2020 project however gives positive signs for a potential breakthrough. CraftEdu ( develops innovative qualification and training schemes for craftsmen and on-site workers in the field of energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources in buildings, with activities concentrated in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, also involving Austria as source of motivation and experience, and Bulgaria as a potential replicator. Inevitably, the proximity of languages and building traditions helps, and the first results are definitely promising.


The logic behind CraftEdu’s approach is simple but impeccable: if we want workers with different occupations to achieve similar standards across EU, we need to define what they need to know: a set of learning outcomes. CraftEdu’s got that for 8 different occupations: 1) HVAC installer; 2) Carpenter; 3) Electrician (High-voltage); 4) Installer of windows and doors; 5) Hydro-insulator (roofs and foundations); 6) Electrician (Low-voltage); 7) Chimney sweeper – Installation of chimneys and chimney liners; 8) Chimney sweeper – Inspection technician.


When we have the learning outcomes, we should then be able to design how to achieve them through training – especially when we count on solid experience from past initiatives as ingREeS, Train-to-nZEB, Fit-to-nZEB and NEWCOM. So, there is already the set of training curricula for each of the 8 occupations. A solid base to start with, isn’t it?


After that, we know precisely what training materials and aids we need, and forge them. This is what CraftEdu is doing now. The full set of materials will be available in Czech and Slovak languages for the start of the new training season in the autumn of 2020. Certainly, they will be also available online - within a new distance learning platform designed specifically for the case. And of course, no training is possible without qualified trainers: to this end, CraftEdu holds its first train-the-trainer course on 26th May in Prague.


If you want to learn more about CraftEdu and join the action, follow all news on Twitter and Facebook. Because we are all in the same boat – and we need to stir up an educational tsunami to empower the Renovation wave. Without it, we might easily get lost along the winding roads to nZEB.