GMIT’s First Professional Apprenticeship Award

By Steven Galvin - Last update


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Seventeen employees from manufacturing engineering companies all over Ireland will be conferred with GMIT’s first professional apprenticeship award, the Bachelor of Engineering in Manufacturing Engineering, at an online ceremony hosted by GMIT and Ibec in March 2021.

The GMIT group are among 37 professional apprentices nationwide to recently complete their three-year programme which was developed by Ibec’s Irish Medtech Association and GMIT together with representatives from the medical technology sector. GMIT and Ibec will host a free online “Employer Briefing” on 24 March, 11am -12 noon, providing up to date information on this Engineering Apprenticeship programme, funding and other supports to help upskill existing employees or take on promising school-leaver apprentices. 

GMIT’s First Professional Apprenticeship Award

Professor Graham Heaslip, Head of the GMIT School of Engineering, says: “This is GMIT’s first professional degree awarded through apprenticeship mode and marks a milestone in Engineering Education in Ireland.”

“We believe that learning by apprenticeship mode is a three-way win – for the learners, for industry and also for us in GMIT. As part of Ibec’s Programme Design Consortium, GMIT took on the role of Lead Academic Partner. Working with partners in industry and in the Institutes of Technology sector, GMIT  developed the academic content for the programme, and we are now working in close cooperation with IT Sligo, Limerick IT and MTU to further develop and deliver this programme over a wide geographical area.”

This first group of apprentices includes many students who were long-time employees of their companies and who were identified as having the potential to develop on Technician and Engineer career paths. Galway-based companies involved include Cambus Medical, Creganna, Merit Medical, Synecco, M&M Qualtech and MSA Safety. Apprentices also came from McHale’s of Ballinrobe, Abbott Diagnostics from Longford, Molex and Beckmann Coulter from Clare, Robotics & Drives of Mullingar and BD Medical of Dun Laoghaire.

Professor Graham Heaslip had a special mention for industry mentors who worked with each apprentice. “They played a key role in the learning process, allowing for the transfer of learning from the Institute to the workplace,” he said.

Dr Paul O’Dowd, GMIT Dept of Industrial and Mechanical Engineering, who led the academic development of the new programme, says: “GMIT has already engaged with 57 engineering apprentices in companies ranging in size from small Irish SMEs to large multinationals. They are working in industries from agricultural engineering to medical technology and are based all across the country from Dun Laoghaire to An Spidéal”.

“Working with Ibec, industry and our academic partners, we have developed not only a way for valued employees to upskill,  but also an alternative route to third-Level Engineering programmes for school-leavers. With further support from Government, we will expand this exciting new “Learn and Earn” route to engineering degree programmes .”

Barry Comerford, Chair of Ibec’s Irish MedTech Association, says “I would like to congratulate GMIT’s first ever class to graduate with a Bachelor’s Engineering degree through the apprenticeship route. As a former Army Apprentice, I understand the value of practical learning in the workplace. As CEO of a high-tech SME, I can now truly appreciate the value of how my apprenticeship helped me to succeed in this business. I believe strongly in the adage that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, and for me, apprenticeships are a significant portion of that journey. This programme has allowed Cambus Medical to develop our staff, and to tailor their general engineering training towards company-specific solutions and projects that deliver bottom-line results. It also helps us to develop our senior engineers, by building a mentoring opportunity for them, which allows us to pass on and embed best-practice engineering problem-solving skills in our company.”

Speaking about his experience of the course, graduate Jason Bohan says: “The apprenticeship model gave me a fantastic opportunity to upskill. The mixture of the academic block in GMIT coupled with the mentored on the job training in Cambus meant that what I learned in GMIT I was able to put into practice. This led to a better understanding of the content of the course while applying it to industry situations.  Over the last three years I have gained the experience and knowledge to help me grow as an Engineer and to continue with my studies to upskill even more.” Watch this short video of Jason Bohan sharing his thoughts about the L7 cours.

GMIT and Ibec’s online “Employer Briefing” (Thurs 24 March 2021, 11am -12 noon) will provide information on the Government grants scheme (€3,000 grant per apprentice) which will expire on 30 June 2021. A  representative from Ibec will outline the 2021 recruitment plan which will see apprentices start training in their companies in August, before beginning their Academic Block in GMIT in September. The Government’s Apprenticeship Action Plan 2021-2025, shortly to be published, will also be discussed.

If you are an employer or employee in manufacturing engineering, please visit  https://www.manufacturingapprenticeships.ie/ to find out how to apply and how companies can get on board.

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Steven Galvin

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