Two men standing outside in front of some leafy green trees and a statue. One man is holding a document.
Martin O’Brien and Barry Convey. Image: LMETB

Irish orgs pair up to train teachers to tackle STEM skills shortage head on

8 May 2023

Dundalk’s AMTCE will host the Engineering Technology Teachers Association as it works to train teachers to attract students to STEM careers.

The Engineering Technology Teachers Association (ETTA) is to work with the Dundalk-based Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre of Excellence (AMTCE) to increase its ability to provide training to its members so that they can teach the next generation of STEM learners.

AMTCE and ETTA signed an agreement which will see the latter move its headquarters to Dundalk. The agreement means that AMTCE will work with ETTA to provide training courses in tech and STEM education for its members.

The AMTCE will also provide support for ETTA projects that encourage post-primary and adult learners to engage with advance manufacturing, STEM, IT and other related subject areas.

ETTA is a voluntary association that represents teachers of engineering, tech, design and communication graphics. It has more than 300 active members. Alongside the supports it provides to STEM teachers, it also runs the Young Engineer of the Year competition for Leaving Certificate students.

STEM skills gap needs tackling in secondary schools

The collaboration announcement with AMTCE comes only a few months after Engineers Ireland’s director general Damien Owens appealed for STEM stakeholders to respond to the need for more to be done at second level and in schools to narrow Ireland’s engineering skills gap.

Referring to a survey report by his organisation, which is the professional body for engineers here, Owens said that 72pc of member-respondents said they were very concerned about the shortage of skilled engineers.

“If we don’t address the skills shortage soon, it could have negative effects on our economy and society. We urgently need more young people choosing careers in engineering,” he said at the time.

According to Barry Convey, chair of ETTA, the agreement between the association and AMTCE will go a long way in building a progressive collaboration that “will be of huge benefit to the ETTA members and their students”.

“This agreement gives access for the ETTA to amazing opportunities to develop bespoke training courses and world-class facilities and gives rise to the development of such courses that will lead to CPD for members in a rapidly changing space in education at this moment in time.”

AMTCE’s future

The AMTCE was set up in 2021 by Louth Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) to deliver training in advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0.

Its CEO Martin O’Brien recently spoke to about the work the centre does and what its plans for the future are.

Regarding the collaboration with ETTA, O’Brien said it would serve to “provide effective, relevant training for its members at the frontline of STEM education in Ireland”.

“Together, we will explore joint funding opportunities and the launching and promotion of initiatives in our schools and further education that will increase access and participation in engineering and technology initiatives and develop a talent pipeline of highly skilled future employees in high-value jobs for our thriving manufacturing sector,” he added.

Sadie Ward McDermott, director of further education and training (FET) in LMETB said she believed the collaboration would “ultimately work towards increasing numbers of those considering career pathways in STEM related disciplines”.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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