Meet the engineers of the future
These are the engineers of the future.
The school-leavers are opting to take new-style apprenticeship routes to a leading profession.
Leonard Cunningham heads up the apprenticeship programme in operational engineering at the pharmaceutical multi-national GSK, which has plants in Cork, Dungarvan and Sligo.
At GSK, engineering apprentices not only complete the usual four-year on-the-job training and college based learning, they are also encouraged to pursue additional qualifications at night, up to honours degree level.
Mr Cunningham says that by the time they finish, these apprentices-turned-graduates will have a very definite edge on traditional graduate engineers, who have come through the third-level degree route, without the day-to-day workplace experience. GSK, which currently has 10 engineering apprentices in its Cork plant, and more starting in September, has a rigorous selection process in place.
While the company is attracting high-achieving school-leavers, CAO points don't come into the equation when deciding on who to recruit. What is necessary is that applicants meet the minimum entry requirements - passes in at least five Leaving Certificate ordinary-level subjects including maths and English, as well as engineering or a science subject at grade A-C. Study of design and communications graphics, engineering or technology for the Leaving Certificate are also an advantage.
What the company focuses on is the student's aptitude for the job through a practical assessment, problem-solving and role-playing challenges, presentation skills and an interview.