Aer Lingus boss Christoph Mueller has backed the Belfast Telegraph’s 100 Jobs In 100 Days campaign to encourage companies to take on apprentices.
The aviation man, who has been chief executive of the Republic’s flag carrier since 2009, said the airline ran its own engineering apprenticeship and pilot cadetship programmes.
Mr Mueller urged would-be engineers and pilots to apply for the schemes in the future. He said he hoped the engineering apprenticeships could even entail secondments with Northern Ireland aerospace manufacturers.
“I come from a strong background of apprenticeships. In Germany, it’s almost legendary,” said Mr Mueller.
As well as enabling companies to develop the skills in staff necessary for their own needs, qualified apprentices were future wealth-creators, he said. “You can prove that apprentices are more likely to create their own business than academics,” he added.
Mr Mueller said Germany’s position as the eurozone’s leader in manufacturing was partly due to its emphasis on apprenticeships.
Aer Lingus’ pilots’ cadetship scheme received 2,000 applications for 40 positions. Twenty cadet pilots, including Cormac Leyden from Northern Ireland, started their careers in January.
Mr Mueller spoke at a time of change for Aer Lingus as it is soon to move from Belfast International to George Best Belfast City Airport. The airline is also in the process of resisting a third takeover bid from rival Ryanair.