THE transport industry has climbed aboard the Belfast Telegraph's campaign to create 60 jobs in 50 days with the offer of eight new apprenticeships.
Translink is offering the recruits the opportunity to enlist in its bus engineering apprenticeship programme and learn a trade while being employed.
In the past two years, 23 apprentices have already joined its four-year programme which spans its bus and rail engineering departments and its signalling and telecoms units.
The apprentices have been learning high-level skills through personal, on-the-job training from a team of highly-qualified Translink tradesmen and women, teamed with relevant educational courses. The skills each apprentice learns makes the programme a viable alternative to the expense of university fees and will last them a lifetime, according to Translink.
One apprentice, Gavin McManus (25), is undertaking his 'Apprentice Technical Trades' at Translink's Falls Road depot, where he is receiving training and advice on the repair of buses.
"I love working with vehicles and it has always just been a hobby until I was able to undertake this apprenticeship that has turned a lifelong dream into an actual career," he said.
"It also provided a chance to gain vital knowledge of the operations of a large and well-known organisation such as Translink that works across Northern Ireland."
Among the core proficiencies Gavin is learning is fault diagnosis within buses, as well as the skill and expertise to repair them in both electrical and mechanical systems.
He added: "Working for Translink on an apprenticeship has enabled me to gain academic qualifications and work in the mechanical engineering department.
"This has given me a good grounding in all aspects of the business.
"However, my favourite part of working for Translink has been the vast amount of knowledge I've gained about the business as a whole – not to mention all of the people who have made that possible."
Gavin said the key skills necessary for his role include strong practical skills plus a knowledge of motor vehicle technology.
"Good problem-solving skills and paying attention to detail to help locate faults are also a requirement as is a reasonable level of fitness; an ability to work as part of a team; good communication skills and an awareness of health and safety regulations," he said.
"There's also the added bonus of not having to work part-time while learning, which was a huge factor in my decision to come here.
"I'd love to maintain a position as a full-time technician within Translink. It is such a great company to work for and they have given me this great opportunity to follow a dream for a future career in mechanical engineering."
Applications for the eight bus engineering apprenticeships have been launched and will close on Friday, April 25
STORY SO FAR
The Belfast Telegraph launched 50 jobs in 50 days on March 12 to cajole companies into taking on new apprentices.
The campaign has so far succeeded in securing 11 firms and 20 days ahead of its target, the goal of 50 positions has already been surpassed. Indeed, the stakes have been raised and it's now a race to offer 60 jobs in 50 days – by May 1.