Weekly News 18th March 2022

Mitchelstown Apprenticeships event draws the crowds

The growing awareness of apprenticeships was clearly evident on Thursday last as crowds attended the Apprenticeships event in the Firgrove Hotel.  Sponsored by Mitchelstown Credit Union and organised by the CBS along with Presentation Secondary and Col. Fionnchua in conjunction with the Credit Union, the crowd travelled on the night from many towns in the locality to learn about the expanding range of opportunities available in the apprenticeships sector.

Information and awareness of opportunities within our own community was the central aim of the organising groups, and that was provided both by the speakers and by the individual exhibitors.  Cork College of FET’s Gillian Cannon was the main speaker and a central party to the successful organisation of the event, and she outlined the qualifications and general procedure involved in securing an apprenticeship.  While traditionally apprenticeships were confined to the craft industries, there are now over 60 programmes available in 13 different sectors with qualifications ranging from Level 6 to Level 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications.  An apprenticeship is a dual system, a combination of on-the-job learning and off-the-job training, for example in MTU (formerly CIT). Gillian focused on craft apprenticeship programmes in Construction, Engineering, Electrical and Motor, including key points on what potential employers are looking for.  Brian Stokes, from the Morrison’s Island campus (formerly Cork College of Commerce) spoke on the Accounting technician and auctioneering apprenticeships.  His colleague Anna Gorecka spoke on opportunities within the Logistics Associate apprenticeships.  Information on a career in hairdressing was outlined by Deirdre O’Sullivan, with John Byrne providing information on opportunities within hospitality.  Carol Carey from Cork College of FET spoke of the many opportunities available for the school leaver and for the career changer in courses in the further education colleges. 

Dairygold is one of the larger employers in the community and Dairygold Head of HR Adrian Beatty spoke from the perspective of the employer on the apprenticeships programme.  Dairygold offers a range of apprenticeships and points to the internationally-recognised qualification, the career development opportunities availed off through training with highly experienced colleagues and the blended experiential learning as significant benefits to the apprentice.

The large crowd also had the opportunity to meet with a range of exhibitors on the night and from the 7pm opening time those stands were surrounded.  Exhibitors included Palleskenry Agricultural College, the Defence Forces (both Navy and Army), An Gárda Síochána, Accounting Technicians of Ireland, DePuys Synthes, South Coast Transport/Specto, E.S.B., Blackwater Engineering, Lisnabrin Engineering, Rea Refrigeration, Dairygold, Silver Pail, the Logistics Associate apprenticeships  and the Cork Colleges of F.E.T.

Minister Simon Harris has been a keen promoter of the apprenticeships sector and is overseeing the expansion of opportunities therein.  He recorded a short address for the event; this can be viewed on the schools’ and Credit Union social media channels.  In it he points to the broad variety of sectors, the growing number of programmes and the value of the qualifications, and he encourages school leavers to look at all of the options available to them post second-level.

It was very pleasing to see so many students and parents from the CBS at the event and feedback from those in attendance was hugely positive.  Significant efforts are made by the school Guidance Counsellors in bringing in speakers from a broad range of companies and from the education providers, and the opportunity to have so many in the one place and in our own town was grasped by the senior students in the school. 

The positive feedback clearly shows the value of the event, which ran for the first time over 2 years ago.  The original idea was initiated by Mitchelstown Credit Union, who must be commended for their commitment.  It is a project truly in keeping with their community-centric philosophy.  Particular thanks must go to Andrew O’Regan for his trojan work in bringing last week’s event to fruition, to Conor O’Brien for his assistance and to Credit Union manager Colin Irwin for the continued support and sponsorship of the event.