Apprentices views on Rudd’s Green Jobs – Hope for a greener building industry

From The Australian July 29th: THE Rudd government’s decision to enshrine practical sustainability training for apprentices as a key pillar of its new “green jobs” initiative has been deemed a “smart option” by two young apprentices.nJoel Scotton, 20, and Jesse Hollis, 22 — both Bovis Lend Lease apprentices — are working on the construction of a 26-storey commercial building in Sydney’s CBD at 420 George Street.nThe men thought the new initiative, although not directly creating new apprenticeships, would give an advantage to younger workers and create a better future.n“It will give them an edge. It’ll give them a better advantage. It’s a positive step,” said Mr Scotton, a third-year apprentice carpenter.nMr Scotton said the transition to a low-carbon economy would bring a significant change in attitudes and practices among tradesmen.n“I think it’s actually a big change in skill set. I think anything we can do to cut back on carbon waste is a good thing. I was very lucky to be trained in sustainability as part of my apprenticeship. It’s great to see training like this coming up. It gives us a great future.”nMr Hollis, a fourth-year apprentice carpenter, said the change in skill set was minimal and easy to grasp, with the environment the real beneficiary.n“It’s not a fundamental change. I’m not going to have a dig at the government. Personally, it’s not hard to work green,” he said. “I love Australia. It’s beautiful. And I don’t want it to get ruined, you know, so stuff that I can do in my workforce to make it better (will make) a difference.”nUnder the scheme, Australian apprentices in a range of sectors, including building and construction, will start to receive additional “green skills” training from January next year.nThe move is one of four key pillars in the government’s new “green jobs” package. Other measures in the package include 6000 new jobs allocated to environmental sustainability in priority areas; 4000 insulation installation training positions going to the long-term unemployed and a 26-week “green job” training course for long-term unemployed youth. It’s great to see that the attitudes of newcomers to the industry are so positive about the environment. The apprentices comments have a deeper subtext: “green skills” are not a big deal, and have been taught as part of their mainstream training – as it should be! But given that sustainability is so obvious to these young men, why does so much of the Australian building industry still fight against such change?nWith the Building Code of Australia looking to strengthen its energy efficiency requirements, the building industry is mounting rearguard action to limit their effects. In my daily work, I’d have to say that most developers/builders only seek to comply with regulations, but no more than required. There is a long way to go before the majority of the industry adopt what is so obvious to the two young men quoted in the Australian article.

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