Irish Medtech Association and Plastics Ireland, the Ibec groups that represent the medtech and polymer sectors, today launched three new apprenticeship schemes as part of the Department of Education and Skills wider national strategy, underlining the growing strength behind Ireland's business model. The groups predict that, based on current trends, 1,100 new apprentices will be registered by 2025, significantly addressing the skills gap for the domestic manufacturing industry, Ireland's second largest employer. Speaking at the launch were Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD and regional business leaders. Kevin "Boxer" Moran, TD for Longford and Westmeath was also in attendance.
Irish Medtech Association and Plastics Ireland Apprenticeship Manager Denise Carthy stated: "These manufacturing and polymer apprenticeships offer candidates a unique opportunity to get excellent qualifications and experience with world leading companies operating in Ireland. Apprenticeships offer participants more than on the job skills and training, they are also a passport to a great career choice with large global companies. Ireland's talent pool has always been at the heart of our economic strategy for growth and attracting FDI, and with the uncertainty generated by both Brexit and the new US administration, getting apprenticeships right is a major strategic advantage. These three new schemes, launched today, underscore the scope of substance behind the Irish business model. In fact, we’re now seeing unprecedented demand for qualified engineers and technicians from businesses this year with 4,000 new jobs to be added in the medtech sector and 8,400 jobs in biopharma by 2020. We're delighted that based on the current uptake we expect to have nearly 1,100 apprentices registered by 2025."
Ms.Carthy continued: “The businesses participating in apprenticeship scheme's this year include medtech, polymer, engineering, aerospace and agricultural industries, with 128 apprentices to start over the first two intakes in 2017 and further expansion planned for next year with biopharma businesses showing a keen interest.”
Chair of the Manufacturing Apprenticeship Consortium and CEO Cambus Medical, Barry Comerford, stated: "As an ex-army apprentice, I immediately saw the value of this kind of programme. For innovative manufacturing industries in Ireland we needed something more like the successful German apprenticeship model where industry was a major driver. With 12,400 patents filled, medtech is the most innovative sector in Europe. We're seeing incredible new technologies to empower patients in the areas of connected health and drug delivery so getting the balance right between learning and training to meet the demands of this highly innovative industry was key. As a CEO it was important for me to get involved from the start and I now expect to see even more businesses getting involved once they see the results."
Chair of Plastics Ireland Apprenticeship Consortium and Mergon International General Manager, Aisling Nolan, stated: "Getting involved in the polymer apprenticeship for us was a no brainer. Ireland's polymer industry is incredibly diverse with more than 6,500 people working across more than 200 businesses with companies specialising in key manufacturing areas such as medtech, biopharma, aerospace as well as food and drink. As a contract manufacturer, we need the right people who understand how to work with the latest technology and can apply technical knowledge in order to meet the demands of these growing sectors . These news apprenticeship schemes will equip people better than any other programme of its kind in Ireland."
Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD said: “I am delighted to be involved in the launch of these new and exciting apprenticeships. The consortia involved in the development of these new programmes have set an ambitious target of having 1,100 apprentices registered on the medtech and polymer schemes by 2025. By its nature, apprenticeship is an employer led programme aimed at developing the skills of the apprentice to meet the needs of industry and the labour market. Employer buy in is critical as the apprenticeship model is dependent on employers taking on apprentices. It is essential that key stakeholders continue to build on existing and foster new relationships within the enterprise community and that all sectors of the economy embrace the challenge to develop new apprenticeships. I want to encourage all employers to become involved in these new programmes, to take on apprentices and help the consortia to achieve these targets."