Over 170 Apprentices in the South East region recently received certification on completion of their apprenticeship. A presentation of certificates was made to over 80 of these apprentices by Councillor Seán Ó hArgáin, Mayor of Kilkenny City.
Speaking at the presentation, Mayor O’hArgáin drew particular attention to the calibre of the Irish Apprenticeship system which is recognised nationally and internationally. He added: “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 was the success obtained by the Irish Team at successive World Skills 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 London last year the Irish Team which included three apprentices from the South East, won 3 Gold Medals and 5 Medallions of Excellence.
Mr Paul O’Toole, Director General, FÁS 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 facilitation of redundant apprentices to progress to their next off-the-job phase of training while they are redundant and through the Redundant Apprentices Placement Scheme where redundant apprentices can complete the on-the-job phases 3, 5 and 7 of their apprenticeship with FAS approved employers”.
In the South East region, FÁS has supported approximately 400 apprentices to complete their apprenticeship through the Redundant Apprentices Placement Scheme. This represents funding of approximately €2m from FÁS and the Department of Education and Skills.
FÁS has also developed a Competency Development Mechanism to assist eligible Redundant Apprentices who have not completed the required four year in employment for the award of the FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft to undertake an assessment in a FÁS Training Centre to determine that they have reached the standard and therefore can progress to the award Advanced Certificate Craft. The Waterford Training Centre provides the Competency Determination Mechanism for Brick and Stone, Plastering and Electrical.
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.
Mayor O’hArgáin spoke of the changes in technology and approaches to work in recent years and the importance of the development and updating of skills, saying “These changes are taking place so rapidly that, unless all of us keep ourselves updated there is a danger, that the skills we have acquired, will be outdated over a very short period of time.”
In the South East 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. Some recent programmes in the South East region include a Pharma- Manufacturing Technology Programme developed in Waterford Training Services Unit and the Canadian Welding Project which has trained and tested 140 Welders who have taken up employment contracts in Canada.
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. Finally, I would like to wish you every success in your futures careers”.