As Ireland’s economy continues to recover and businesses expand, there is a growing demand for people with vocational skills.
Businesses need people with strong practical skills and apprenticeships are often key to delivering this.
Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training (FET) Service facilitates employer-driven apprenticeships in a variety of sectors, including construction, electrical, engineering, finance, hospitality and motor.
Declan McGee is one such employer who sees a real need for skilled tradespeople in Ireland today.
The award-winning Falcarragh plumber has his own company – i Heating & Cooling Ltd – and has come full circle from being an apprentice to having an apprentice on his own team.
Declan said the demand and opportunities are out there for the taking.
“We can see a massive trade shortage at the minute and there are very little people looking to become a tradesperson. People were scared to take it up after the recession or they have gone abroad,” Declan said.
“Our company focuses on installing renewable heat pumps. We have four workers but there are a handful of jobs coming in every week that we have to put off because we can’t take them all on.
“There are national targets for heating systems to be renewed by 2020 so there is plenty of work,” he said.
Declan said trade work is a good place to be at the moment for ambitious people who enjoy manual work.
Declan started training as a plumbing apprentice through Donegal ETB after his Leaving Cert in 2003.
He worked with a local employer for four years. A major benefit of apprentice training is that learners get paid to learn and earn a weekly salary from either their employer or through their training allowance.
Declan excelled in his work and was encouraged to enter national skills competitions.
He won the Irish Skills competition twice and was selected to represent his country in Japan in 2007, coming fourth out of a contest against apprentices from 45 countries.
The Irish Team’s success in World Skills Competitions over the decades has regularly proven that Irish apprentices are among the best in the world.
Declan said: “The World Skills competition opened doors for me into instructing with the ETB in Gweedore and Letterkenny. As soon as I finished training I went straight into self-employment too.”
Apprentices with Donegal ETB are awarded an Advanced Certificate Craft, which is at Level 6 of the National Framework of Qualifications and is an internationally recognised qualification.
Declan used his qualification to work in Australia for a year before returning home to set up his company.
He credits Donegal ETB with turning out skilled apprentices with the most up to date qualifications. He points out that renewable energy is the future of the trade and this is one valuable qualification that learners gain through the programme.
Learners split their time between working with their employer out on the job and training with ETBs and ITs. In this way, they build strong practical skills and can work independently anywhere.
Declan said the main requirements for the field is to be a good worker, be dedicated to the job and have good people skills.
“I would recommend doing an apprenticeship now. There are plenty of opportunities out there,” he said.
The Irish Apprenticeship system has proven successful in developing highly skilled workers in a range of sectors.
Senior Training Advisor, Lorraine Murray, Donegal ETB Apprenticeship Services, explains that the first step for anyone wishing to do a craft apprenticeship is to find an approved employer willing to employ him/her as an apprentice. The employer then registers the apprentice by contacting the Apprenticeship Section of Donegal ETB. Craft apprenticeships are a seven phase programme with phases 1, 3, 5 and 7 spent on the job with their employer and phases 2, 4 and 6 in a training/educational environment (ETBs and ITs nationwide).
Lorraine added: “An apprenticeship commences when an employer registers their apprentice with SOLAS by contacting Donegal ETB. In recent years apprenticeship has expanded to include many occupations outside of the traditional trade related areas and these 2016+ apprenticeships vary in duration from 2-4 years with qualifications available from levels 5-9 on the National Framework of Qualifications.”
“We would encourage people to see the full list of available apprenticeship training in Ireland on www.apprenticeship.ie and then to contact our Senior Training Advisors who will be happy to answer all questions and explain in more detail the options available in relation to apprenticeships.”
See the full list of current Apprenticeships in Ireland on http://www.apprenticeship.ie/en/news/Pages/List%20of%20Apprenticeships%20in%20Ireland%20-%20Generation%20Apprenticeship%20Aug%2018.pdf
If you are interested in pursuing an apprenticeship through Donegal ETB, simply contact the Training Advisors to find out how you can get started. Contact: Senior Training Advisors for Donegal ETB Lorraine Murray on 074 9120506 (email email@example.com) or Tom Egan on 074 9120561 (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Further information is also available on Donegal ETB’s website here: www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/apprenticeshipsTags: