Six people standing outside ATU Galway campus with trees behind them. They are holding a certificate of accreditation from Engineers Ireland.
Lisa Preston, ATU Galway engineering graduate; Ann O’Connell, Ibec; Richard Manton, Engineers Ireland; Barry Comerford, consortium chair; Dr Paul O’Dowd and Dr Carine Gachon, ATU Galway. Image: John Ohle/Coalesce

National engineering apprenticeships get accreditation from Engineers Ireland

14 Jun 2023

The Engineers Ireland accreditation has come following successful feedback from students and employers involved in the courses.

A select few national apprenticeship engineering programmes have received accreditation from Engineers Ireland, meaning they are internationally recognised and consistent with high standards.

The professional body for engineers in Ireland has given its seal of approval to two programmes that are open to school leavers, employees and mature students. This is a first for Irish engineering apprentices, but it comes at a time when the industry is crying out for talent amid a skills shortage.

The official accreditation from Engineers Ireland creates, maintains and ensures a consistent standard of engineering programmes in Ireland. Both programmes were co-developed by a dedicated consortium of industry and academic partners and are available in multiple universities across the country.

The Level 7 Bachelor of Engineering in Manufacturing Engineering apprenticeship programme is delivered in three regions through Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway, ATU Sligo and Munster Technological University (MTU) Cork. It will be rolled out further to students of the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) from September 2024.

The second scheme to receive accreditation was the Level 6 Higher Certificate in Manufacturing Engineering programme. It is delivered at ATU Galway, ATU Sligo, MTU Cork and TUS Midwest.

ATU is the coordinating provider of these programmes, with TUS and MTU also on board as academic partners. Ibec’s Irish Medtech Association led the overall consortium that developed the schemes. The consortium is in the process of developing a Level 8 degree as a progression route, according to Dr Xavier Velay of ATU Sligo.

Trish Breen of Ibec, and consortium project manager, said the accreditation from Engineers Ireland “is a validation of all the hard work of academics and industry representatives, not to mention our hard-working industry mentors and of course our superb apprentices”.

“The programmes have been a fantastic success. Feedback from employers, apprentices and graduates is overwhelmingly positive.” She added that 44pc of these employer partners are SMEs.

Currently, there are more than 400 apprentices involved in the programmes with 100 employers across Ireland. Participants spend 70pc of their learning time in the workplace and 30pc of their learning time on campus.

One of the participants, Lisa Preston, who is a graduate of the Bachelor of Engineering apprenticeship said she found the programme to be “a very fitting set-up”. She is working at MSA Safety in Galway and she returned to education while working full-time.

“The unique combination of studying in a college environment and in an industry setting enabled me to learn and further develop my practical skills beyond the classroom. This blended approach enhanced and developed my own personal growth in a way that allows me to seek out opportunities that I would not have looked for before. The skills and knowledge I gained through this course has pushed me forward in my career, to participate and lead in company projects, to continuously improve the work processes and environment for all associates in MSA Safety,” she said.

Earlier this year, Engineers Ireland highlighted the potential role apprenticeships could play in speeding up the pipeline of skilled engineers.

More information about the apprenticeships can be found on Ibec’s website.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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