Today was a momentous event in Drogheda College with the official opening of Ireland’s first Further Education and Training (FET) centre specialising in the delivery of the electrical apprenticeship programmes. Established by the Louth Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) and funded under the auspices of the DFHERIS, the innovative Drogheda College Donore FET campus was officially opened by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
With the shortfall in construction throughout the country the opening signalled a determined drive to get suitable qualified tradespeople to support the needs in the electrical industry and building industry. Commissioned and up and running in a relatively short space of time,there was a clear air of optimism ,that LMETB can deliver with over 300 jobs on an annual basis.
The demand for apprenticeship in Ireland is exceptionally high and Drogheda College Donore FET campus will deliver training for over 300 electrical apprentices annually. The €4.2m investment will also create up to 20 new permanent jobs in the region.
At the opening ceremony, the Minister was joined by Martin O’Brien, chief executive of the Louth Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB), Sadie Ward McDermott, director of Further Education and Training (FET), Philip Sheridan, manager, Drogheda College, Alanah Kirk, assistant manager, Drogheda College, David McDonnell, principal of Drogheda Institute of Further Education (DIFE), other senior members of the LMETB Board and invited guests. Minister Harris toured the new facility, meeting and speaking with the apprentices and instructing staff.
Martin O’Brien, chief executive, Louth Meath Education and Training Board, said, “LMETB is extremely proud to be the first ETB to establish an innovative FET centre uniquely dedicated at this time to the delivery of electrical apprenticeship training in Ireland.LMETB acknowledges and thanks Minister Simon Harris and his officials from the Department of Further and Higher Education Research Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) and SOLAS management for their support and investment in this unique concept.
Drogheda College will be of enormous benefit to the young people of Louth and Meath and surrounding counties in addition to stimulating business development further in this region.
I especially want to thank my team in LMETB for their hard work and dedication in the submission of our successful bid and then transforming this building into a reality in a 16-week construction period. We hope that our FET centre is a model that may be utilised by other training boards,” O’Brien continued.
The establishment of Drogheda College came about when SOLAS sought expressions of interest to develop standalone large scale electrical apprenticeship training centres. In 2022, the LMETB was the first education and training board to be successful in its bid to establish such a centre.
Drogheda College is housed in a 2,170 sq. metre two storey standalone building occupying a strategic location north of Dublin with rapid access to the M1 corridor and close to local facilities in Drogheda. It will deliver eight separate electrical programmes delivered by a team of instructing staff.
Sadie Ward McDermott, director of Further Education and Training at LMETB, said “Drogheda College is an innovative response that addresses the urgent needs of the construction sector and supports economic growth nationally. It will enable LMETB to grow and expand its FET capacity to deliver apprenticeships across the region and assist SOLAS in addressing the current national apprenticeship waiting list. It showcases best practice in quality assured teaching and learning strategies, with the equipment and facilities to support the delivery of high calibre apprenticeship training programmes for a modern dynamic workforce.”
As the first bespoke open plan training centre of excellence for electrical skills training, Drogheda College is aligned to the FET College of the Future concept. LMETB’s aim was for an unique centre that changed the image of training environments to a more modern, bright, progressive setting with a ‘wow’ factor for an enhanced training and learning experience.
Philip Sheridan is the manager of Drogheda College and as former acting director of apprenticeships at SOLAS, he brings a lot of experience to his new role. He said, “Drogheda College holds a distinguished position within the framework of the Irish statutory electrical apprenticeship programme and serves as a pivotal launchpad for aspiring electricians. What truly distinguishes the centre is its incorporation of the competency centre concept, where apprentices not only amass technical expertise but also cultivate problem-solving skills and adaptability, vital traits in the ever-evolving electrical engineering landscape.
By meticulously blending theoretical knowledge with immersive learning, Drogheda College ensures that apprentices are equipped not only with technical prowess but also the confidence to excel in their chosen field,” Sheridan continued.
The establishment of Drogheda College is contributing to the Government’s Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021 – 2025, which aims to deliver an apprenticeship system that is flexible and responsive, providing a strong value proposition for employers and potential apprentices.
Louth and Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) provides an extensive offering of FET provisions to over 15,000 FET learners every year, including 563 craft apprentices in 2022. The opening of Drogheda College FET centre will enable LMETB to increase capacity, projecting intakes of 754 apprentices in 2023 across nine craft apprenticeship trades, using existing facilities.
LMETB delivers its craft apprenticeship programme in partnership with 685 employers in Louth and Meath that actively support delivery of the on-the-job training element of the innovative apprenticeship model.
LMETB also provides services to 14,000 school students at primary and post-primary level, providing opportunities for senior cycle students to participate in innovative Pathways projects. They enable and support young people to explore future training opportunities in areas such as engineering, science and advanced manufacturing disciplines.
For further information on FET services, courses, and programmes, visit lmetb.ie