Responding to Skills and Training Needs of Engineering and Manufacturing Companies in the South East
Engineering and manufacturing companies from across the South East gathered in Kilkenny (Tuesday 19th June) to meet with the various education and training providers regarding new responses to their skills and training needs. Organised by the South East Regional Skills Forum, companies from Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford, Waterford and South Tipperary gathered for a breakfast briefing from IT Carlow, WIT, Kilkenny Carlow ETB, Waterford Wexford ETB and Carlow Kilkenny Skillnet (CK Training).
This event was a follow up to the skills needs analysis carried out by the South East Regional Skill Forum at the end of 2017. This analysis revealed that 52% of engineering / manufacturing companies in the South east had expanded in the previous year and that 66% identified skills deficits within their existing workforce. In particular training needs were identified in engineering, project management, quality control, 3D & CAD, CNC Programming, Welding and Supervisory Management.
The education and training providers have been busy developing responses to these needs. The Education and Training Boards have developed new Engineering and Precision Manufacturing Traineeships which train individuals over an eight month period with a mix of formal training and work based learning to become skilled operatives. Further details are available at www.fetchcourses.ie .The Institutes of Technology have developed a number of new part time courses, funded by Springboard. For example IT Carlow has a new Certificate in Introduction to CAD & 3D Modelling (Level 6, 10 credits) and WIT has a new Diploma in Supervisory Practice (Level 7, 60 credits). Further details at www.springboardcourses.ie. CK Training Skillnet has a range of relevant courses, for example its Management Development training course. Further details at www.cktraining.ie.
On the day there was a number of concerns raised by companies. In particular there was concern that there is a bias against the promotion of apprenticeships to students at second level. This is despite the fact that engineering and manufacturing companies in the South East currently employ in excess of 34,000 employees, many of whom are in well paid engineering related roles. Apprentices earn while training and can expect to start on salaries of €25,000 - €30,000 when qualified. This was echoed by Edmond Connolly, Manager of the South East Regional Skills Forum, who highlighted that the greatest demand for skills in the region was in the broad range of engineering related disciplines. There was also general consensus that training programmes at all levels needed to maintain an applied or practical focus so that graduates were ready for the world of work.
The South East Regional Skills Forum is an initiative of the Department of Education & Skills to support industry in the region and assist the education and training providers respond to identified skills and training needs. Further details at www.regionalskills.ie.
Image: Panel Speakers LtoR; John Trehy IT Carlow, Ashling Ward Carlow Kilkenny Skillnet, Martha Bolger KCETB, Ken Thomas WIT Martina English WWETB Edmond Connolly SERSF