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A family affair: Megan and Mollie take on apprenticeships at DIT

Posted: 4 July, 2018

Excited students from the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) programme, Access to Apprenticeship, recently gathered with friends and family to celebrate their graduation. Amongst them were two exceptional young women, sisters Megan and Mollie Northridge.

Access to Apprenticeship was initially developed to address the obstacles facing young people from areas of social disadvantage in accessing an apprenticeship; however, the secondary role of encouraging more young women to apply for an apprenticeship was also on the minds of DIT educators.

Jennifer Byrne, a Cabinetmaker and a Lecturer on the Institute’s Timber Product Technology programme, has also taught the wood trades in Apprenticeships for many years. She believes one of the principal difficulties in recruiting young women is that they seldom get to work with their hands in school. “Girls attending single-sex schools rarely get the chance to study subjects like woodwork and their innate talents might not be discovered unless someone in their family or social network works in the trade. It is a pity that we do not see more women coming through apprenticeships, as they tend to pay more attention to detail and raise the standard of the work overall.” 

Megan agrees and says that her interest in practice-based learning wasn't fostered at second-level. "My school used to have Woodwork as a subject, but got rid of it before I started, and when I was in 6th year, the message was College, College, College; I didn’t even know that an apprenticeship was an option for me.” Mollie chimes in, “If I could have studied subjects like metalwork, I would have stayed in school; spending hours every day in a classroom wasn’t for me."  

What most appealed to the sisters during the 12-week programme was the freedom to explore the different types of apprenticeships on offer in DIT. Megan says, “It wasn’t a case of the Lecturers saying I’m going to do this and you guys watch, and it was like here's your plans, go get your tools, and away you go. It was the same on work placement, I thought I would shadow someone, but immediately I was told weld that over there.” The experience paid off for the girls, Megan will shortly begin a Welding and Plumbing apprenticeship with Jones Engineering on Intel Ireland’s site in Leixlip while Mollie is looking forward to taking on more work experience in carpentry with Dublin City Council. 

When asked what they would say to anyone considering an apprenticeship, Megan remarked, "Honestly, do it – try getting onto this course and even if you don't get into apprenticeship straight away, DIT give you your SafePass and your manual handling training. You get to meet companies while you’re in the programme, we met fifteen different employers and visited their sites to see what they do, it was great.” Mollie struck the same chord observing that the opportunities presented by Access to Apprenticeship are diverse with so many jobs and learning pathways open to graduates.

About Access to Apprenticeship

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD launched the Access to Apprenticeship pilot programme in DIT Linenhall last July. Supported by J.P. Morgan and ESB, the programme aims to address critical challenges faced by young people aged 16-24 from areas of social disadvantage from accessing an apprenticeship. Over three months, participants sample a range of craft apprenticeships, complete personal development modules and undertake a two-week work placement with an employer in a trade of their choice. To date, 48 young people have taken part in the programme with over 50% taking on an apprenticeship or further training upon completion. Recruitment for the next training block will begin in autumn 2018.  For more information, please contact julie.stafford@dit.ie.