Blog: The apprenticeship path, while often overlooked, can offer great career options

10 Oct 2017

Ahead of the WorldSkills Championship later this week, Nikki Gallagher, Director of Communications with SOLAS, outlines what the apprenticeship route can offer.

I very strongly believe that for all of us to achieve our potential, we have to think about our aptitudes, our interests, where the jobs are and then pick whatever education route will get us to exactly where we want to be. Our job in SOLAS is about creating the environment where people can thrive and really excel.

In Ireland, the college route is often very important to people, but really the bigger picture if you step back from this idea is that education is really what is important to us, and there are lots of education options available. College is one option and it is a brilliant option, but there are lots of others. An apprenticeship is another great education option and often people don’t realise that it allows you to go to college and work and earn money at the same time, so an apprenticeship is the best of both worlds.

This week 14 young apprentices and trainees will represent Ireland at the 44th WorldSkills Competition – the Skills Olympics – in Abu Dhabi, from 14 – 19 October 2017.

The Irish team will showcase their skills and talents in the areas of Aircraft Maintenance, Automobile Technology, Beauty Therapy, Cabinetmaking, Heavy Vehicle Mechanics, Construction Metal Work, Electrical Installations, Industrial Control, Joinery, Plastering and Dry Wall Systems, Plastic Die Engineering, Plumbing and Heating, Restaurant Service and Welding.

Each member of the team, all of whom are under 25 years, have proven expertise in their chosen field having competed against their peers to secure their places at the Competition. They were selected from the winners of the National Skills Competition Finals, which were held in December 2016.

The Worldskills Championship is one way in which we promote apprenticeships and that is only possible because of our fabulous ambassadors, who are the best of the best in their chosen field. These individuals are so incredibly determined and dedicated. We have a small team from a small country and we do extremely well and our skills are at a very high standard.

Worldskills allows us to celebrate our skills and achievements and it creates a bigger platform to allows us talk about skills and talk about what Ireland is good at and how we can support Ireland to do more of what it is good at.

The Irish team are some of the finest young craftspeople we have and are great ambassadors for apprenticeships and traineeships

Competitors, who come from Cavan, Kerry, Waterford, Meath, Tipperary, Louth, Sligo, Wicklow and Kilkenny, have been in full-time training for the past 10 weeks under the direction of their coaches.

The Team has been trained in the Institutes of Technology (CIT, DIT, LIT, WIT & IT Sligo) and Education and Training Boards (Kerry ETB, Waterford Wexford ETB, Limerick Clare ETB) Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute, Shannon College of Hotel Management and Aer Lingus.

SOLAS, as the Further Education and Training Authority, is delighted to support the team and the Ireland Skills Council and we wish them every success in the upcoming competition.

The WorldSkills Competition, which is held every two years, is the world’s largest professional education event. Approximately 1,200 competitors from 68 countries and regions will compete in 51 different skills and disciplines in Abu Dhabi.  All competitors will demonstrate technical abilities both individually and collectively to execute specific tasks for which they study and/or perform in their workplace.

The WorldSkills Competition has a 60 year history and is the biggest vocational education and skills in the world. The competitors represent the best of their peers in almost 50 different skills and are selected from skills competition in over 77 WorldSkills’ Member Countries and Regions.

The Department of Education introduced national and international skills competitions to Ireland in 1957 and Ireland has participated in all Competitions since.

Ireland has won 61 gold medals, 53 silver medals, 79 bronze medals and 160 diploma/medallions. In the last competition in São Paulo Brazil, Ireland achieved 11th place out of 75 countries. This continues the trend of Irish craft people consistently achieving outstanding results at the WorldSkills Competition.

This is a very exciting time for Ireland, there is some really great stuff happening in the world of apprenticeships right now and the WorldSkills Competition showcases just a snippet of this. There are many really excellent career paths that you can take and an apprenticeship can be your first step.



Nikki Gallagher, Director of Communications, SOLAS

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