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Simon Harris officially opens Ireland’s first electrical apprenticeship college in Louth

Aug 29, 2023

Photo: Aidan Dullaghan/Newspics

Photo Caption: Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, with Sinead Murphy, Head of Land and Buildings, LMETB, Martin G. O’Brien, Chief Executive LMETB, Alanah Kirk, Assistant Manager, Drogheda College  Sadie Ward McDermott, Director of Further Education and Training, LMETB, Philip Sheridan, Manager, Drogheda College and David McDonnell, Principal, Drogheda of Further Education (DIFE)

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD today officially opened the Craft Skills Training Hub at Louth Meath ETB Drogheda College of the Future, Donore Campus. 

The opening of the hub will allow the college to provide training for over 300 apprentices each year with three intakes during the year. 

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.” 

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.” 

Speaking today, Minister Harris said: 

“We know we have skills shortages in this country, but today is another important step on the road to addressing that challenge.  

“Today we are following through on our promise, investing in our young people and sparking their interest in the careers on offer here in electrical trades and more. 

“This facility will make a valuable contribution to the availability of skilled workers in the construction industry, helping to achieve the ambition set out in the Government’s Housing for All plan.” 

Minister Harris added: “I am particularly delighted with this facility, considering that a key recommendation of the Geiran Report in January 2021 was the requirement for more apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programmes in Drogheda. This is exactly what is being delivered here, and all in a state-of-the-art facility.”