Over 350 apprentices in the Midlands region recently received certification on completion of their apprenticeship. A presentation of certificates was recently made to over 50 of these apprentices by Mr Paul O’Toole, Director General of FÁS.
Speaking at the presentation, Mr O’Toole drew particular attention to the calibre of the Irish Apprenticeship system which is recognised nationally and internationally. He added, “Apprenticeship is a quality programme that is structured to ensure that the most up to date methods and practices are imparted to the participants throughout the duration of their apprenticeship.”
An example of the standards achieved by apprentices during their apprenticeship is the success achieved by Irish Teams at successive World Skills Competitions, the most recent being in London in 2011, where the Irish Team won 3 Gold Medals and 5 Medallions of Excellence. The next World Skills Competition is due to take place in 2013 and it is hoped that once again the Irish Team can compete and achieve success.
Mr Paul O’Toole spoke of the changes in the current economic climate and the challenges they present for apprentices in completing their training. He stated, “To address this challenge, FÁS has put in place a series of measures to assist redundant Apprentices in completing their Apprenticeship. These measures include the Redundant Apprentices Placement Scheme where redundant apprentices can complete the on-the-job phases 3, 5 and 7 of their apprenticeship with FÁS approved employers.”
In the Midlands region, FÁS has supported over 140 apprentices to complete their apprenticeship through the Redundant Apprentices Placement Scheme. This represents funding of approximately €1.1m from FÁS and the Department of Education and Skills.
Mr O’Toole acknowledged the role of employers in the Redundant Apprentices Placement Scheme saying “I would like to thank employers who have participated in the Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage more employers to participate in the scheme and provide on-the-job training for apprentices, to enable them to reach Crafts-persons status.
The Advanced Certificate Craft is at Level 6 of the National Framework of Qualifications and is an internationally recognised qualification. The knowledge and skills acquired during their training, especially in the workplace, provides apprentices with a strong skill base to work at their chosen trade both home and abroad, or to progress to further training and education.
Mr O’Toole spoke of the importance of apprentices developing current technical skills and expanding the range and diversity of skills to improve and advance their careers.
In the Midlands region, FÁS has a wide range of programmes on offer across a wide range of disciplines, aimed at improving the skills and qualification levels across our labour force and has responded to potential growth areas by introducing courses such as Festival Management & Sound Production which is run in conjunction with Grouse Lodge recording studio. There is a growing demand for trained professionals in this sector and this course aims to provide trainees with the skills required to succeed in the festival industry. The course also aims to ultimately contribute a number of indigenous festivals and events; as well as the companies and professionals required to service all aspects of them.
Concluding the ceremony, Mr O’Toole congratulated the apprentices who received their Craft Certificates saying: “For all of you it has been a thorough and testing programme and it is of great credit to you that you have come through successfully.”