Representatives of five large Shannon companies participated in an event to showcase apprenticeships as a possible career choice for local teens.

Organised by Shannon Chamber of Commerce, the event was hosted by St Patrick’s Comprehensive School and was aimed at introducing apprenticeships to students and their parents.
  There was a keen interest in the evening with over 160 people turning out to observe presentations on the apprenticeship schemes at Molex, Modular Automation, Element Six, Lufthansa Technik and Atlantic Aviation Group.
Michael Collins, a process engineering manager with Molex, spoke of progressing from toolmaker to his current position and was strong in his praise for apprenticeships.
Molex provides a number of career options including apprenticeships in toolmaking, manufacturing automation and maintenance fitter, manufacturing technician and industrial electrical engineering.
  Modular Automation has a four-apprenticeship programme combining on-the-job and classroom training. Alan O’Brien started as an apprentice toolmaker in 2005 to his present position as production manager. Modular’s toolmaking and electrical apprenticeships offer hands-on experience of working in an exciting engineering environment.
  According to Alan, “An apprentice needs to have a good academic record, an interest in hands-on work and attention to detail. They must have a positive attitude, be flexible, be good communicators, like working on a team in a fast-paced environment and to deadlines.”
  At Element Six, the apprenticeship programme consists of a 2-year manufacturing technician programme and a 3-year manufacturing engineer programme. Contracts for the 2018 class commence in October with the academic portion starting in January 2019.
  Aircraft maintenance company Lufthansa Technik Shannon (LTS) operates a 24-month aircraft maintenance apprenticeship programme combining theory, workshop and practical training.
Graduates of this programme have gone on to become CEOs, heads of production, VP technical, quality managers, airline pilots, lead engineers, technical instructors and aviation consultants.
  Apprentices at another aircraft maintenance company, Atlantic Aviation Group, have gone on to become All Ireland Skills Champions and won two of the last three world skills challenges.
Its four-year programmes include two years’ practical work in the Shannon hangar and two years’ theory carried out at its Shannon training institute in association with the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
Zimmer Biomet introduced the first industry-led manufacturing apprenticeship in Ireland, The company currently has eight apprentices completing Level 6 manufacturing technical apprenticeships.
  Commenting on the value of the event for secondary level students, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said, “It shows the students and their parents that we have a great spread of companies here in this region offering amazing career opportunities, whether it be post-school or post-college.
“It’s down to choice and which route best suits the student’s aptitude. Our aim in organising this event was to get the conversation going about apprenticeships, to let the people who have ‘walked the walk’ do the talking and to show where their individual careers have taken them to.”
  Joe Leddin, manager of the Mid-West Regional Skills Forum, noted, “Our key task is to transform the perception of apprenticeships. As education is changing to meet industry and learners’ needs, this is beginning to happen and the number and profile of employers offering apprenticeships are expanding. The ambition of having 50,000 people in apprenticeships by 2020 is clearly attainable.”