As the demand increases for green roofs and associated systems, the recently formed GRO Training and Education working group has discussed the steps it’s taking to ensure the sector can attract skilled workers and meet demand as the sector continues to grow.
According to green roof material supplier Diadem, the green roof market is set to be worth GBP £4.5 billion by 2030. This is based on growth of around 17% each year. But how will the industry keep up with demand without the recruitment of the next generation of designers, installers and stewards of vegetated rooftops? And how is GRO, the Green Roof Organisation, addressing the potential skills gap?
GRO has announced that the recently formed GRO Training & Education working group is celebrating over 500 learners that have engaged with green roof training via Lantra Awards and GRO certification since 2018. GRO says the training has been rolled out across the four UK nations, including uptake from NatureScot, Natural Resources Wales and Queen’s University Belfast, plus numerous practical installation courses in England.
The Association points out its member companies Wildflower Turf Ltd and Wraxalls have been offering green roof training to their partners and clients to encourage further uptake in the industry, and Construction College Midlands, part of Walsall College, has created a bespoke green roof rig in its green skills training area. GRO has also announced this year sees the introduction of a Green Roofs Microcredential (qualification) from Gower College and Swansea University, supported by funding from Welsh Government and, separately, the foundations of a Sustainable Environmental Roofing apprenticeship scheme.
GRO says it is also actively working towards a more diverse and inclusive industry, having signed up to the Horticultural Industries ED&I Charter, and says it is proud that there is already a good ethnic and gender balance across the 500 plus certified learners. With this in mind, the Association points out Abigail S. was just 18 when she became the first female, and only the third person, in the UK to hold a blue LISS/CSCS Green Roof Installer card, demonstrating competency in the installation and maintenance of green roofs.
The working group, which is made up of Chris Bridgman as Chair (Bridgman & Bridgman and GRO Vice Chair), Giles Doland (Zinco and GRO Chair), Mark W Harris (SIKA and GRO Secretary), Kay Rose (Institute of Roofing), Ben Arundel (ABG Installs), Ben Howkins (Sky Garden), Mark Dunn (SIKA), Neel Bidessie (Langley) and James Beattie (Pritchard & Pritchard), says it will be focusing on meeting the training needs of the future across all learning levels, and including all roles within the industry, whilst a route map for learners will be created, as well as a focus on training the trainer.