Donegal Apprentices Graduate

Graduating apprentices from Donegal, who recently completed their apprenticeships, were today presented with their Advanced Craft Certificates by Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD.

The event was co-hosted by SOLAS, Donegal ETB and Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim ETB (MSL ETB).

Speaking at the presentation, Minister McHugh noted the growing demand for people with vocational skills and praised the high quality of the Irish apprenticeship system and its success in developing highly skilled workers, like those receiving the Advanced Certificate today: “The skills learned through an apprenticeship are invaluable and offer real job opportunities. Businesses need employees with strong practical skills, and apprenticeships and vocational training are key to delivering these.”

Andrew Brownlee, CEO, SOLAS, spoke of the apprenticeship programme and drew particular attention to the calibre of the Irish apprenticeship system which is recognised nationally and internationally. “You have completed a comprehensive apprenticeship that is recognised at home and abroad as one of the best in the world. An example of the standards achieved by apprentices during their apprenticeship is the success obtained by the Irish Team at successive WorldSkills competitions. This is a remarkable achievement and it proves beyond doubt that our apprenticeship system and our apprentices are among the best in the world.”

At the most recent World Skills Competition held in Russia in August, four gold medals, one bronze medal, a Best of Nation medal and seven Medallions for Excellence were achieved by the team of 17 young apprentices, trainees and students who represented Ireland.  Among the team of 17 were apprentices Christopher Kehoe and Jack O’Donnell. Christopher Kehoe completed his final training in Letterkenny Training Centre under the direction of Welding Instructor and WorldSkills Expert Cathal McGee. Cathal also accompanied the Irish Team to Russia as their WorldSkills Expert in Welding. Jack O’Donnell completed part of his final training in Gaoth Dobhair Training Centre under the direction of Plumbing Instructor John Sweeney. Both Christopher and Jack won Medals for Excellence at the championships.

The Advanced Certificate Craft is at Level 6 of the National Framework of Qualifications and is an internationally recognised qualification.

There has been an increased focus on Apprenticeships in recent years. Apprenticeship in Ireland has traditionally been the path to skilled occupations in a range of sectors such as construction, engineering, motor and electrical. However, under the guidance of the Apprenticeship Council, the apprenticeship system in Ireland is expanding. Things are changing, with an expanded model of apprenticeship, in which a wider range of occupations are attracting more people into apprenticeships.

New apprenticeships have been launched in sectors such as auctioneering and property services, finance, biopharma, ICT, logistics and hospitality with more in development across a range of sectors. Alongside this, there is an increase in the number of new apprentices being registered across all of the current trades. This is a testament to the high regard which the apprenticeship system in Ireland is held. It has long been respected as a comprehensive and successful career and education route for people of all ages.

Representing the Education and Training Boards, Anne McHugh, CE, Donegal ETB said “We are delighted that so many young people have received their Advanced Certificate Craft here today. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the young people, their families, the companies with which they work with and of course, the staff in our Training Centres who support and work so hard with them during their time with Education and Training Boards. Both Donegal and Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim Education and Training Boards are delighted that Government policy is so strong in the area of Apprenticeship and we are very much committed to working with SOLAS to promote the development and growth of apprenticeship activity both regionally and nationally.  Also, as part of our future plans, we intend working more closely with employers and other bodies to achieve the best possible outcomes for our young people”.

Donegal and MSL ETB are currently rolling out a new training initiative across the Northwest. Skills to Advance which was developed by SOLAS, is aimed at upskilling people in employment. An example of this is the development of a strategic partnership between Donegal ETB and a national health services innovations company where the ETB are currently running a Diploma in Professional Administration (Level 6) to upskill operational staff within the company with a view to ensuring sustainability of the Donegal base. Evening course provision in both ETBs is also being utilised to provide Skills to Advance training for many workers in counties Donegal, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.

Concluding the ceremony, Andrew Brownlee congratulated the apprentices who received their Advanced Certificates Craft on their achievement of being recognised as highly skilled craftspeople and wished them every success in their careers.

Image credits: Clive Wasson Photography.

Donegal apprentices who received their Advanced Craft Certificates from Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh (seated centre). Also included in image are seated left-right Claire Lernihan (Enterprise Engagement Coordinator, Donegal ETB), Vinny McGroary (Area Training Manager, Donegal ETB), Anne McHugh (Chief Executive), Geoff Browne (Chairperson, Donegal ETB), Andrew Brownlee (Chief Executive Officer, SOLAS) and Lorraine Murray (Senior Apprenticeship Training Advisor, Donegal ETB).
Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh, takes a selfie at the apprenticeship graduation in Bundoran.