A captain of industry and former chairman of aerospace firm Shorts has urged companies to keep training the workforce of the future as he backed the Belfast Telegraph's 100 jobs in 100 days campaign.
Donegal-born Sir Roy McNulty, most recently in the public eye as deputy chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, recalled putting stamps on letters as he started out himself as an apprentice around half a century ago.
"I completed an apprenticeship in accountancy in Glasgow many years ago," he said. "I went to Trinity College in Dublin and my father was of a view that the best accountancy training you could get was in Scotland, so I was apprenticed in accountancy after my BA and B Comm.
"I think it served me very well because you got a good grounding in the basics and realities of working life. I began by putting postage stamps on the mail. It was basically doing all the basic things which make an operation work."
Sir Roy said apprentices still had a strong role to play.
"I think they are more important now. I think in the world we live in skills are absolutely crucial for every business," he said. "Businesses have an obligation towards society to train up the workforce of the future.
"I can well understand the pressures that businesses feel, particularly in recent years, but I have always taken the view that we shouldn't let those short-term pressures distract you from what is a very important business aim, which is training the workforce of the future."
After qualifying as an accountant, Sir Roy worked for car maker Chrysler in Scotland before joining Harland and Wolff as their first management accountant.
He then moved to Shorts - now Bombardier Aerospace - as financial director, becoming managing director in 1988 and later, chairman.
"I retired in 1998 and have retired several other times since but I keep on doing things," he said.
Last year he published a Whitehall report, Rail Value for Money, on the reform of the UK's railways.
He will remain at his post at the Olympic Delivery Authority for the next 18 months before it is wound up. The Olympic Park is to be refurbished and other venues are to be renovated.
Equipping venues for their legacy value had been a primary aim, Sir Roy added.