AIT Awarded €260,000 in Capital Funding to Modernise Plumbing and Motor Trade Apprenticeships as Uptake Soars

Athlone Institute of Technology has been awarded €260,000 in capital funding to support replacing end of life equipment used for plumbing and motor trade apprenticeships, reflecting the Government’s commitment to increasing investment in higher education and training.

The funding, which was announced by Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD, together with the Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation and Research and Development John Halligan TD, will help develop trade skills for young people.

Apprenticeship training provision continues to be an engine for addressing regional and national skills shortages, and an excellent option for learners looking to forge a sustainable career in highly skilled, practical areas.

The institute, in association with Solas, trains apprentices in diverse and vital areas such as plumbing, heavy goods vehicles, motor and polymer processing and has experienced an almost 50% increase in students enrolling in apprenticeships in recent years.

“We have nearly 400 apprenticeship students every year. This latest investment enables our apprentices to be trained in the latest technology of their trade. This is essential as environmental factors will radically change what an apprentice of the future will encounter,” Joe Lawless Head of Department of Civil and Trades explained.

Of the funding, €80,000 will be allocated to upgrading plumbing equipment while a further €180,000 will be invested in the modernisation of the equipment for motor trade apprenticeships such as the purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles as well as more specialised diagnostic equipment.

“The additional funding received to support our plumbing and motor apprentices will ensure that we continue to offer cutting edge training on first class equipment and is a huge endorsement of the excellent applied education that our trades team provides,” Dr Sean Lyons, Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Informatics said.

According to Minister McHugh: “The Government is deeply committed to expanding the apprenticeship system and this investment reaffirms that. Ensuring that our young people and those retraining have access to cutting edge equipment and the latest thinking on sustainability is key to further developing this increasingly-popular option for training and progression.

“Apprenticeships offer fantastic opportunities and I would encourage any person looking at their career options, especially students preparing to sit exams this week, to strongly consider the many benefits of apprenticeship.”

Nationwide this funding will support the roll-out of new syllabi for apprenticeships in Plumbing, Carpentry, Electrical, Brickwork, Motor Painting and Decorating, Vehicle Body Repair, Fitting, Tool making and Wood Manufacturing and Finishing.

It will enable institutes to provide apprentices with training in the most up to date techniques. The equipment needs have been identified by the HEA, in conjunction with SOLAS.

“I am delighted that over €7.5 million is being invested to support the modernisation of the syllabi and to purchase new equipment for our apprenticeship programmes in our IoTs and TU Dublin. “It will ensure that our apprenticeships have the best possible experience, keep pace with new methods and technologies in the workplace and are trained to the highest level possible,” Minister Mitchell O’Connor said.

Minister Halligan added: “This Government is committed to more than doubling the number of new apprentices registered and the number of apprenticeships on offer over the lifetime of the Action Plan to Expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship. Budget 2019 allocated €142m for apprenticeship training, an increase of over 16% on the previous year. This will allow for the delivery of 10 more apprenticeship programmes and over 7,000 new apprenticeship registrations in 2019 alone.”

Athlone Institute of Technology is one of ten higher education institutes to be receive funding which will help develop trade skills in young people.

An educational powerhouse defined by a commitment to applied, industry-focussed education, Athlone Institute of Technology has enjoyed considerable successes in the academic arena this year, most notably being named “best in class” for research across the technological higher education sector. Further solidifying its reputational prowess, the institute was recently awarded ‘Best Academic Partnership’ at the prestigious national Education Awards for its part in developing SURE, Ireland’s first academic network dedicated to promoting undergraduate STEM research across the technological higher education sector. These accolades build upon the institute’s success in winning the Sunday Times Good University Guide ‘Institute of Technology of the Year’ award in 2018.

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