I always wanted a trade - it wasn't an option until now
Darren Harte always thought he wanted to pursue a career in a trade, but when he left school four years ago, it wasn't an option.
It was at the height of the downturn and opportunities for apprentices reflected the collapse in the economy.
Word-of-mouth alerted Darren (21) to an electrical apprenticeship opportunity at Brian Kelly Electrical Services (BKES), in his native county of Roscommon,
The company has been operating for 30 years and contract manager Lorcan Dowd said that while they never really felt the Celtic Tiger in the same way as Dublin, they did feel the effects of the downturn.
Traditionally, the company would have taken on one or two apprentices every year, but, after the crash, they took on none for about five or six years.
Now, Mr Dowd said, things are "picking up; everyone is very positive we have been very busy in the last 12 months".
The turnaround has allowed BKES to take on three new apprentices in the past year, including Darren, and employment has risen to 17.
Darren started last September after hearing about the opportunity from a welder friend.
"It is going grand. I always wanted to do an apprenticeship, but the opportunities were hard to get," he said.
When he left school, Darren spent a year doing security studies and worked at a couple of jobs, but now believes he has found his career path.