Launching vocational course for Renewable Energy Equipment & Systems Technicians and creation of dedicated RES laboratory.
The interest in renewable energy sources in Poland and the region is growing. Both cities and their citizens more and more willingly invest in RES systems, however the key challenge they encounter is the lack of appropriately trained technical staff that could work as RES designers, installers and maintainers. The Bielsko-Biała’s Centre for Life-long learning and practical training decided to fill in the gap and created dedicated vocational course for Renewable Energy Equipment & Systems Technicians. During the course, the students learn how to build and exploit different RE equipment and systems. Graduates find work as RES installers, but also in the widely understood construction & environmental protection sector and the public administration, where they supervise RES projects. To support the training, the Centre created professional energy laboratory, equipped with many teaching instruments. i.e. photovoltaic cell (2.0V, 350 mA), electrolyser PEM type (1W), energy storage tanks, hydrogen tank (20cm3), oxygen tank (20m3), PEM fuel cell (50mW), windmill (10nW), Fuell Cell Monitor 1950 software. The action fills the gap in the educational process and thus supports implementation of regional & local climate & energy policies (including SEAP for Bielsko-Biała), which envisage wider uptake of RES. It also supports implementation of local low-emission liquidation programmes, which often – like in Bielsko-Biała – foresee co-funding of RES installation in private households.
Training course: the key resource are the experienced trainers; RES laboratory: the cost of equipment reached 70,000 PLN (approx. 16 667 EUR). 34,258.54 PLN was obtained from the Municipal Environmental Protection Fund, while the rest were Centre’s own resources and support from private companies.
Evidence of success
- 1 model training course (curriculum) for Renewable Energy Equipment & Systems Technicians
- Several hundred students trained
- Students finding jobs in the RES, environmental & construction sector, as well as in public administration
- 1 RES lab used not only by the students of the discussed course but also of other relevant courses
- Maintaining the course over the years (proving it satisfies the need)
- Supporting achievement of local energy goals, which include wider uptake of RES
The key challenges were related with setting up the course: identification of knowledge and practical skills that the graduates shall obtain, finding professional trainers, establishing connections with and engaging professional community.
Potential for learning or transfer
The practice can be of potential interest for other regions wishing to develop in sustainable way but lacking professionally trained staff. Similar courses could be implemented by other PL & EU universities, vocational schools, etc. training future RES designers, installers and maintainers, but also employees of public administration supervising RES projects. Both the curriculum, as well as the RES laboratory equipment can be easily replicated, however the latter would need to be adapted to the newest trends and technologies on the market (the lab discussed was set up already some time ago). What is important, training students on RES and other green technologies not only brings benefit for them (better job opportunities) and fills in the gap in the labour market, but also contributes to the achievement of regional & local climate goals (incl. wider RES uptake, installation of RES on own buildings, co-financing them on private buildings – these should be done and maintained correctly).