Leo Donovan, CEO of WEEE Ireland stands crouched behind Declan McElwaine, the owner of Electrical Appliance Services as he works on a washing machine with a screwdriver. The image is taken as if from inside the washing machine.
Leo Donovan, CEO of WEEE Ireland, and Declan McElwaine, owner of Electrical Appliance Services. Image: Andres Poveda.

New course to recharge Irish electrical repair expertise

19 Jul 2021

Several industry stakeholders have come together to create a new, free training course to train the next generation of repair technicians.

A new course set to launch in September will train the next generation of repair technicians in a bid to tackle the national shortage of electrical repair experts.

The average age of electrical repair experts in Ireland is 59, and to prevent thousands of tonnes of electrical appliances going to waste in the future, a number of industry stakeholders took action.

WEEE Ireland, the White Goods Association and technical training agency Fastrack into IT (FIT) joined forces to create the new circular economy skills initiative course.

The free training course aims to produce enough experts to ensure thousands of washing machines, fridges and dishwashers are given a new lease of life in homes across the country.

Up to 20 trainees will complete the initial pilot 26-week programme in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath. This will be followed by 12 weeks’ guaranteed work placement with industry supporters of the programme.

The course, supported by Louth Meath Education and Training Board, is only the second of its kind ever in Ireland. No Irish training programme for the next generation of repair technicians has been available for a decade.

WEEE Ireland CEO Leo Donovan said the new course would be a “fantastic solution to some of the circular economy challenges WEEE Ireland members face”.

Donovan continued “It helps address a skill that is vital to ensuring we can keep householders’ electrical goods in circulation for longer. However, we must go further in encouraging circular activity by including the repair and reuse of electrical products in the EU takeback target and not solely end-of-life recycling targets.”

Last year, WEEE Ireland partnered with the White Goods Association to promote repair of electrical appliances on Repairmystuff.ie, a site that connects consumers with over 800 professionals able to repair everything from watches to washing machines, toys, textiles and furniture.

European home appliance association APPLiA found that 91pc of requests to manufacturers for product fixes in 2018 resulted in an actual repair, keeping these appliances in use for much longer. For its part, WEEE Ireland recycled over 470,000 white goods appliances last year.

Ian Collins, chair of the White Goods Association and commercial director of Beko, commented: “We hope to educate a new generation of skilled repair engineers and keep perfectly repairable electrical appliances in use for longer.”

35-year-old Declan McElwaine from Donegal, who runs a successful appliance repair company, took the only previous course of this type in Ireland in 2007. He is one of the few who remained in the industry.

“Back then there was only one course, in Shannon, and a lot of people couldn’t get work experience, which was the key to getting the qualification,” McElwaine said.

“What’s great is this new course comes with a guaranteed work experience in the sector, which will launch trainees on what I have found to be a rewarding and much in-demand career,” he added.

The circular economy skills initiative course starts in September and is free. Applicants will be expected to have a full driving license by the time their training is completed, however.

For more information about the course, visit FIT.ie.

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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