John Halligan TD, Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation, and Minister of State for the OPW, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran.
The Irish Medtech Association, the Ibec group that represents the medtech sector, and Plastics Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the polymer technology industry held their official launch of their new manufacturing apprenticeships this week in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone.
The event was launched by John Halligan TD, Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation, and also in attendance was Minister of State for the OPW, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran.
Specifically, The Irish Medtech Association are launching a National Manufacturing Engineer Apprenticeship at level 7, a National Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship at level 6 and Plastics Ireland are launching a National Polymer Processing Technologist Apprenticeship at level 7.
The polymer programme commenced on May 8, 2017 in Athlone Institute of Technology with a full class of 16 apprentices. A second polymer intake of a similar size will start in September 2017.
Registration of 42 apprentices for the manufacturing apprenticeship programmes is underway with programmes starting in June 2017 in three centres; Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Limerick Institute of Technology and Cork Institute of Technology, roll out in Institute of Technology Sligo is planned for October 2017 and Waterford, Athlone and Dublin to follow depending on regional demand.
The L6 and L7 manufacturing technician and engineer programmes are 2 and 3 years in duration respectively while the Polymer Technologist, L7 is 3 years. Each programme requires the apprentice to attend a 15 week block at an allocated Institute of Technology, the remainder of the year is spent gaining hands on training and applying their academic learnings on the job with the help of a designated industry mentor from their organisation and an academic mentor from the college.
There's a broad base of companies committed to these programmes in the first year, from major multinationals to smaller indigenous firms spanning the medtech, polymer, engineering, aerospace, electrical, food, furniture, packaging and agricultural industries with 140 apprentices to start over the first two intakes in 2017.
Minister Moran said he was delighted to lend his support to the event as he recognised the importance of providing and expanding the range of apprenticeships on offer to people in the workforce. “The introduction of these new apprenticeships will offer employment opportunities to over 140 people in its first year and I fully support Minister Halligan strong initiatives in this area,” said Minister Moran.
“There are a number of local companies, including Abbott Diagnostics, Longford and Teleflex, Athlone, enrolling apprentices this year which I am particularly pleased about as it reflects a return in confidence in the local economy,” added Minister Moran.
Companies from across the medtech and plastics industries along with GMIT and AIT as the lead providers have worked tirelessly together to develop the new occupations to maximise the opportunity for synergies and sharing of expertise across these manufacturing sectors. World class manufacturing demands world class talent, the development of these apprenticeship programmes is an important step for industry, providing them with the much needed pipeline of highly skilled workforce while expanding the talent pool nationwide.
The polymer industry in Ireland has seen strong growth with over 200 companies identified in new Plastics Ireland research. The industry employs more than 6,500 people and over 70% of the companies supply into the medical technology industry in Ireland. The sector exports €1.25 billion worth of product annually and has a turnover of €1.7 billion.