This post is part of the VET Gazette 3
Eileen Cullen
Training Services & Innovation Manager
Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB)



Collaborative approach

Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2021 provides a detailed plan for taking decisive action to achieve a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and on course for a net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. 

The Irish government is putting Ireland on a more sustainable path; cutting emissions, creating a cleaner, greener economy and society; protecting the country from the devastating consequences of climate change. These commitments are echoed by our European counterparts and many other nations throughout the world.

Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) is delighted to be spearheading this major initiative for a greener Ireland. 

Led by KWETB, 5o Shades Greener is the first national state funded training programme to ‘Green’ the Hospitality & Tourism industry and reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint.

A dynamic collaboration led by Kildare Wicklow Education Training Board (KWETB) was borne out of its Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for the Irish Hospitality Industry. KWETB identified skills gaps such as lack of career progression pathways for supervisory and management roles as well as a lack of knowledge and actions to address sustainability within a sector worth €6bn annually. 

This collaboration with SOLAS (an agency of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science in Ireland), led to the national roll out of ‘Developing Leaders in Hospitality Programmes’ launched by Irish Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Minister, Simon Harris (February 2021). 

Addressing the sustainability and carbon emission reduction skills gap required an action led approach to develop a more carbon conscious sector and workforce, supported by Fifty Shades Greener (FSG) –  a leading environmental education company providing training programmes for the Hospitality industry and secondary schools. 

FSG offered an industry specific Green Business and Green Manager programme. This flexible programme and innovative content  facilitated a self-directed online programme (perfect during Covid-19 restrictions) and a blended in-company model of  delivery to address the identified skills gaps and to support the developing Leaders in Hospitality Programme.

In support of Irelands own National Strategies

A forward-thinking , The National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development in Ireland, 2014-2020 informed KWETB & Fifty Shades Greener’s strategic goals to aligned with the key principles and priority actions outlined in this National strategy. The primary aim is to ensure that education contributes to sustainable development by equipping learners with the relevant knowledge (the ‘what’), the key dispositions and skills (the ‘how’) and the values (the ‘why’) to motivate and empower themselves to become informed active citizens who make constant improvements to provide a more sustainable future.

The suite of developed programmes respond to recommendations within the strategy that targets primary, post primary, professional development, teacher education, CPD for teachers, further education, and higher education.

Data collection (priority action 3.2, p 11) and baseline measurement are captured in these unique programmes,  providing data collection on both household and hospitality & tourism businesses carbon footprints.  These baselines are used as the starting points for measuring the impact or effectiveness of our training programmes (typically reducing costs by 30% whilst also reducing their carbon footprint). This data has the potential to provide governments with accurate, time relative baseline data and emission reductions.

Programme objectives

  • To support businesses getting started towards improved sustainable practices and creating their initial Environmental Management System. 
  • To establish industry usage baselines of energy, water, and waste. 
  • To identify opportunities for cost savings and reduction of utilities expenditure. 
  • To implement small actions that will see a reduction of utilities by learners, and motivate to continue “Greening” their workplace far beyond programme completion. 
  • To make sense of sustainability in a business context whilst realising  cost savings. 
  • To create a carbon conscious culture of sustainability amongst all staff members.

What the data says so far

  • 250 businesses have registered for the programme, this constitutes over 10% of the hotel marketplace in Ireland.
  • The programme has also branching out by attracting restaurants, cafes, and visitor centres.
  • Participating businesses see significant cost savings of circa 30% per annum on their energy usage and waste costs.
  • Seeing KWETB’s success, nearly all other Education and Training Boards (ETB’s) in Ireland have subsequently joined this initiative, rolling it out their respective regions.
  • Data from participant businesses, show trends of environmental data with averages for a 100-bedroom Hotel of
    • Electricity usage for Hotels (excluding leisure centre usage) = 3.91 kWh per person per day with best practice being 2.067615 Kwh per person per day and worst being 5.69 kWh per person per day
    • Electricity usage for hotels (including leisure centre usage) = 17.40 Kwh per person per day.
    • Landfill waste average KPI 0.095 Kg per person per day with best practice being 0.035682 Kg and worst being 0.166516 Kg per person per day
    • Food waste average KPI 0.194886 Kg per person per day with best practice being 0.021015 Kg and worst being 0.45269 Kg per person per day

Reaching a wider audience 

The Green Manager programme targeted at the Irish Hospitality Sector has shaped future delivery strategies. It has also seen the rollout of the ‘Building a Greener Future’ programme for post primary schools, Green Skills for Life aimed at the learners and employees in the workplace. The programme has been recently been accreditated by Ofqual and mapped on Ireland’s National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).  

The focus on sustainability and the building of a more carbon conscious society and workforce will lead Ireland’s industries towards achieving the committments given in Ireland’s National Climate Plan 2021, working towards 2030 and 2050 net zero targets, aided in part by KWETB’s committment to the environment.