‘We are asking employers to give people an opportunity’
Workplace training: What is it and what’s on offer?
Traineeships are on offer in a wide range of areas, including animal science, business, care, construction, engineering and fashion and beauty. Photograph: iStock
School-leavers are increasingly familiar with apprenticeships and PLC courses, which form part of a suite of further education and training (FET) alternatives. But just what exactly does the “training” in this acronym stand for? Who’s doing a training course? What can it lead to? And what’s on offer.
“In the past, traineeships were of most value for unemployed people,” says Shauna Dunlop, director of apprenticeships and work-based learning at Solas, the further education and training agency. “Actually, they are available to everyone and can be a very good option for school-leavers. They are short courses of between six and 20 months in duration, but most are between six and nine months. People usually leave with a level 5 QQI qualification, although some traineeships are at level 4 or level 6.”
Traineeships provide participants with a taste of being in the workplace, and can be a first step on a career path, an alternative for people who don’t want to go to college or a way to advance skills. They are also a good way to spend a year out before starting college for those who are uncertain about their next steps or who may have been disappointed with their Leaving Cert results and the subsequent CAO offer. The ultimate aim is to increase employment prospects and to increase staff retention within industries.
“When you’re on one of these courses, at least 30 per cent of the time is spent in the workplace, so you’re picking up both practical and softer skills,” says Dunlop. “The learning is done through a mix of online and face-to-face classes. With the economy now close to full employment, we are seeing existing employees decide to avail of traineeships, often so they can develop their skills. Some trainees are already in the workplace and want to develop their skills. And we are seeing graduates, who may have a level 8 degree, return to education through traineeships because they want a specific qualification; the number of enrolments on tourism and hospitality traineeships around Limerick and Clare being an example of graduates responding to where the jobs are.”
Unlike a college course, traineeships are free for participants. Unlike apprenticeships, however, there’s no payment for participants. If they’re already employed, their employer may give them their normal wage. If not, an employer offering a traineeship may choose to offer a payment or perhaps even a contribution towards their expenses (travel, lunch etc) – but they’re not obliged to.
“We are asking employers to give people an opportunity,” says Dunlop. “It is almost like a work-placement scenario to see how they get on in the workplace, and they go through a lot of quality learning to gain valuable skills. There are good outcomes for learners and a high percentage of trainees in employment or continuing their education.”
If traineeships have generally been for unemployed people and those looking for a career change, are they really a good option for school-leavers? “They can be for someone who is not entirely sure of their next steps,” says Dunlop. “A traineeship is a short, flexible course for a whole range of areas, so someone could get their qualification as they explore what other pathways are out there. We have traineeships that people could start tomorrow.
“A school-leaver could do the traineeship, start work and develop their career from there. They may go on to further education or training, or they may decide after a few years to start in a third-level course.
“There are also quite a few who may, for instance, go into a level 4 culinary or hospitality traineeship and then decide to go on to a commis chef apprenticeship. We really see the traineeship as a first step: like a post-Leaving Cert course, it’s a chance to get a qualification while deciding what the next step is. They can be great for someone who wants to get into a new role in a short period of time, whereas an apprenticeship can take up to four years. Traineeships are ideal for school leavers.”
* For more information, see Traineeship.ie
Traineeships: what’s on offer?
Traineeships are on offer in a wide range of areas, including animal science, business, care, construction, engineering, fashion and beauty, finance, hospitality, transport, manufacturing, media, retail and sports and leisure.
Bus and coach driving, pharmaceutical manufacturing, animation, radio production and digital journalism, barista, accounts executive, IT network security, wind turbine maintenance, beauty therapy and medical administration are just some of the 68 currently available traineeships. Details of traineeship programmes currently open for registration are available on Fetchcourses.ie
Further information on traineeship programmes may also obtained from your local Education and Training Board (ETB). Details of your local ETB can be found on the Education and Training Boards Ireland webpage (etbi.ie).
Flying high: Spray away the day
Axel McKeown (20) didn’t get enough CAO points for the course he was interested in. At a loss, he visited Solas’s Shannon Training Centre.
“It was a brilliant and inspiring place full of lovely people,” he says. “They told me that there were places on aircraft maintenance and aircraft spray training courses. There were only 14 places and I missed out on the first round. Three months later, a call came in to say someone else had dropped out. So I started training with International Aerospace Coatings. Now I’m a permanent employee and I spray aircraft as a day job.”
Planes need to be repainted every five to 10 years, or if the plane is sold to a different airline, meaning there’s plenty of work to be done. “When a plane comes in, we do inspections for any damage and then, over the next six to 10 days, we use formic acid to remove the paint – sanding if necessary – before going to work on painting the fuselage,” McKeown explains. “I was only 17 when I started and we were paid during the training. I’m here just over two years now.”
McKeown has travelled with work: last year, he was sent to work in Rome for a Lufthansa project. “I’m a level one spray painter now but will have opportunities to move up the ranks. Every day is new. I consider this my hobby and I particularly love going to work on the night shift with my team and supervisor. I’m only 20 so who knows where I will be in five years’ time; I’ll reassess then. For now, this is easily the best job I have ever had.”