Centre to help plug flooding skills gap launched at Brunel

A new centre to help bolster the UK’s defences against flooding has launched at Brunel University London.

The Centre for Flood Risk and Resilience (CFR2) – which has been developed in partnership with the Environment Agency, and the environmental organisations HR Wallingford, Jacobs, ICE Blue and CIWEM – aims to help fill the skills gap currently faced by the sector.

Backed by £200,000 from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund, CFR2 will offer a suite of Chartered Institution of Water and Environment Management (CIWEM) accredited e-learning programmes aimed at professionals, before being expanded to include Brunel’s undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses in Flood and Coastal Engineering, which have run at the university since 2017.

The first e-learning courses are expected to go online in mid-September.

Professor Tassos Karayiannis of Brunel’s College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences and Director of the CFR2, said: “The Centre will complement our existing undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Flood and Coastal Engineering, which are offered alongside HR Wallingford and supported by the Environment Agency.

“The Centre will provide new CIWEM accredited e-learning materials developed with our partners for new learners at both pre and post-university level, and at the same time offer an opportunity for an upgrade to professionals working in the field.

“This will help reduce the national and international skills gap for professionals working in this multidisciplinary field.”

The Catalyst Fund, launched by HEFCE before it became the Office for Students, aims to support the Government’s Industrial Strategy by developing the curriculum in areas of national importance. In total, £6.1m was awarded to 30 universities across the UK, with Brunel receiving the maximum amount possible for a single institution.

Terry Fuller, chief executive of CIWEM, said: “The training of professionals to meet our global challenges of flood and coastal erosion risk management is a priority for CIWEM. We are pleased to support the development and accreditation of the courses offered by the centre”

Paul Cross, Senior Skills, Efficiency and Resilience Advisor at the Environment Agency, said: “The Centre for Flood Resilience holds a great deal of promise and potential to enhance the skills and capabilities of those working in the sector, empower communities at risk through education and inspire future generations to forge an exciting career within the sector.”

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