The Engineering Training Council (ETC) is inviting applications for more than 100 engineering apprenticeships that start in September.
The ETC’s subsidiary, Engineering Training Services, which recruits on behalf of engineering companies throughout Northern Ireland, said its 2010 recruitment drive was open to anyone with an interest in the sector.
Funded by the Department |of Employment and Learning under its Apprenticeships NI |programme, the scheme aims |to match candidates with the opportunities that companies have on offer in areas such as |mechanical maintenance, welding, technical support and toolmaking.
Jim McIlveen, manager of ETS, said that while there are not as many apprenticeships available as before the recession, there is still strong interest from both employers and jobseekers.
“We actively go out and partner with engineering employers, most of which are small to medium sized in Northern Ireland. They don’t have their own training department or HR department. We try to become that department for them and take the donkey work out of recruitment selection for them, to make it easier for them to find apprentices,” he said.
“As well as doing the recruitment, we then help them train the apprentices once they’re on the programme.”
The programme has run for 10 years and Mr McIlveen admits the sector is not as buoyant as it once was.
“This time two years ago I would have had 100 jobs filled already and been looking to fill more. I would have always had more jobs available than young people. Last year, because of the economic downturn, that went the opposite way,” he said.
“Within engineering there are the companies that are struggling. Some old reliables who are maybe part of multinationals that have recruitment embargoes on worldwide. But there are other companies out there who are booming and can’t get people through the door quick enough.
“There are a lot of small companies you have never heard of who are taking on one or two apprentices.”
ETS believes it will likely receive up to 600 applications, around half of which will go through to an aptitude test in June before being considered for the jobs.
Mr McIlveen said the industry is also keen to encourage women to apply for apprenticeships in the engineering sector, where they have traditionally been under-represented.
“The biggest problem we have on that aspect is fathers, because of their memories of engineering. We can go out to a careers convention and convince a young girl that engineering is for her but over the dinner table that night she could be told that under no circumstances is she going into an engineering company.”