European Training Standard

training standards mean qualified earth builders


PIRATE stands for Provides Instruction and Resources for Assessment and Training in Earthbuilding. This project brings together eighteen organisations from eight countries to write standards for training in the various earth building disciplines for workers who can already build and train others. It acknowledges that earth building is a process which needs to be taught and assessed as a normal part of construction training, either on site or in a training environment.

There are already training standards for earth plasters, which you can download now free. There are also a lot of people working at all levels in earth building, from labourers to PhD's, but there is not system of assessment for skilled workers in earth structures and certainly not one which covers the European area. To allow people to train, and to travel to train and have valid qualifications which crosses borders is an ambitious task. But there are earth building and training organisations across Europe, each with their own national and regional situations. Finding the common ground between them takes time and a lot of discussion.

Earth Building UK and Ireland is the UK's earth building partner, and we are helping co-ordinate the monolithic structures working group, which covers rammed earth and cob. This group covers training levels 3 and 4, skilled workers who can work alone at level 3 or direct others, at level 4. This group of workers is the heart of earth building and where we face the greatest shortage.


  The future, trained workers gaining earth building certificates in Europe, for use across Europe  

This is not a training manual or system, training cam be done 'on the job', in a technical college, in a workshop, or a combination of all three. Trainees might be working with a skilled team, or with a parent, may be self taught or transferring skills from other building practice. The point of the PIRATE project is to assess workers however they were trained to ensure their understanding is at the same level as others in the same field.

The project has already brought an amazing amount of understanding about the different conditions in a number of different countries, those with 'living' traditions, those having to re-invent traditions or start from scratch. Each situation may bring different understanding and approach which helps the others. Networking between national organisations also brings co-operation which helps them all.

The three year project began in 2012 and ends in 2015, by which time the outputs will begin to be disseminated. Over time we should see trained workers, a new breed, coming into the field with different understanding and expectations than the generation which came before. this means both risks and opportunities to be faced and understood, but a group of people better placed to do so.

EBUKI have been in discussion with the Construction Industry Training Board to change the National Occupational Standard (NOS) to bring it in line with the PIRATE project Units of Learning Outcomes. The current NOS is in the Heritage Skills suite of standards and stays there but now allows new build as well as conservation skills. Not only that but the language of PIRATE, clay, rammed earth, cob and masonry have been brought in to  facilitate changes in the yet to be defined National Vocational Qualification, watch this space...

The first test assessment has been run in France, see image above, and the second in Germany is imminent, so earth structures will have a structure of testing and assessment recognised by a wide group of organisations across 17 countries as others join the European MoU for earth training.







    Units of learning outcomes, a teaching tool and guide for national bodies  




    Meetings allow visits to exemplar earth building projects