I had a great experience visiting the Ireland Skills Live exhibition at the RDS over the weekend.
The event, which promotes trade apprenticeships as a career path, included national skills competitions in 25 categories varying from traditional trades like plumbing and carpentry to hospitality, catering, aircraft maintenance and digital skills, like cloud computing and building information modelling.
West of Ireland winners included Brian Muldoon from Portumna, who won in the construction plant fitter section, and Barry Forde of Ballinlough, Co Roscommon, who won in the electrical installations section and who works for F and H Electrical, Athenry. Jack O’Donnell from Spiddal was also a winner in the carpentry section.
Thousands of students attended the exhibition to look at apprenticeships, which are a great opportunity to earn as you learn.
Apprenticeships may be an alternative to third level education but they can also complement further studies or lead directly to them.
We are experiencing a skills shortage in some sectors, particularly construction, so learning a trade has never been more relevant. It is something that can stand to you for the rest of your life.
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife, Sabina, visited the exhibition and it was great to meet them and chat to them.
I also met John Finnegan from Sylane, who works with the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board as an Electrical Instructor and is a World Skills National Examiner in Electrical Installation.
The winners in the skills competitions will go on to represent Ireland at the World Skills Competition in Russia in August.