PipefittingGroupPhotoA new Apprenticeship programme, which will see Apprentices working with the latest technologies in commercial and industrial piping systems was officially launched by Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Mr Damien English T.D in the LMETB Regional Skills and Training Centre in Dundalk yesterday - 3rd Dec 2015. The Apprenticeship has been developed by SOLAS, in partnership with industry and trade union representatives and the Education and Training Boards in direct response to an identified industry need.

The growth of the pharmaceutical and chemical industries in Ireland has introduced a range of new technologies to the construction and engineering industries. Systems such as chemical, high purity liquids and gases, caustic systems and new heating and cooling applications are now being installed, maintained and renewed across a range of facilities in the state. These industries utilise new technologies and processes in the installation of these systems that were not present in the current Apprenticeship training programmes. The use of new piping materials in these sectors and the use of different types of thermal processes in the installation of these systems has generated a need for an Apprenticeship training programme to cater for these new skills and processes.

The craft of pipefitting involves the installation, repair and maintenance of a range of commercial and industrial piping systems. Pipefitters provide a range of welding and fabrication services across a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, chemical, oil and gas, food & catering, agricultural and construction.

Minister English met with the first group of Apprentices in training and their employers when launching the programme today. Commenting at the launch Minister DamienEnglishSpeechEnglish said ‘as industries advance with the use of new technologies we must ensure that we develop a skilled workforce to match these advances. I believe that this Apprenticeship programme will provide that very workforce. Education and training policy must constantly develop to meet new challenges and it is clear that the expansion of the Apprenticeship model into new sectors will benefit both employers and the individual Apprentices involved’.

37 Apprentices have been registered to the craft of Pipefitting to date. 23 Apprentices are currently on their Phase 1 on-the-job training with their employers and the other 14 Apprentices are on their Phase 2 off-the-job training in the Regional Skills and Training Centre.

CEO of SOLAS, Paul O’Toole also welcomed the launch of the new Apprenticeship ‘The skills learned through an Apprenticeship are invaluable and offer real job opportunities. Businesses need people with strong practical skills and Apprenticeship and vocational training are key to delivering these skills and competences’. 

Also commenting at the launch Peter Kierans, CEO of Louth and Meath ETB said ‘We are delighted to be hosting todays’ launch here in our Regional Skills and Training Centre. We have a long history of providing training in Apprenticeship. The centre has purpose built facilities and state of the art equipment, making it the ideal venue for providing all the off-the-job technical training for this new Apprenticeship programme.’

PipefittingSignSOLAS – the Further Education and Training Authority holds statutory responsibility for the management and development of the Irish Apprenticeship system.

The Apprenticeship model is in the process of being expanded into new career sectors, such as, financial services, manufacturing and IT. It is expected that some of these new Apprenticeships will come on stream towards the end of 2016. The expected growth in craft Apprenticeship registrations and the expansion and introduction of new Apprenticeship programmes is being supported by an additional €10.5 million in Government funding.

(Left Picture above shows the first Pipefitting Apprentices with Instructor Hugh Keogh, RSTC Area Manager Peter Egan, CEO of Solas Paul O'Toole, Chairperson of LMETB, Cllr Oliver Tully, Minister Damien English, CEO of LMETB Peter Kierans; middle picture shows Minister Damien English addressing the crowd, bottom picture shows the sign created by apprentices and instructors of RSTC)