Engineers Ireland accredits apprenticeship programmes

2 mins read

Ireland’s first consortium-led, multi-campus manufacturing engineering apprenticeship programmes have received accreditation from Engineers Ireland, the professional membership body, and accrediting body for engineering in Ireland.

Accreditation from Engineers Ireland creates and maintains a consistent standard of engineering programmes in Ireland and will now offer qualified apprentices an internationally recognised qualification.

The Bachelor of Engineering in Manufacturing Engineering is the first accredited Level 7 engineering apprenticeship programme in Ireland that is open to school leavers, employees and mature students.

It is delivered in three regions through Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway, ATU Sligo and Munster Technological University (MTU) Cork. The programme is expected to be offered in Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) Midwest (Limerick) from September 2024.

The Higher Certificate in Manufacturing Engineering programme, delivered at ATU Galway, ATU Sligo, MTU Cork and TUS Midwest, is the first and only Level 6 accredited Manufacturing Engineering apprenticeship programme in the country.

These national engineering apprenticeship programmes were co-developed by a consortium led by Ibec’s Irish Medtech Association, representatives from the manufacturing industry and academic partners ATU (coordinating provider), MTU and TUS, to meet the needs of the sector.

At present, over 400 apprentices are involved in the programmes with 100 leading employers across Ireland. Apprentices spend 70% of their learning time in the workplace and 30% of learning time on campus.

Dr Richard Manton, Registrar at Engineers Ireland, said: “Engineers Ireland accreditation is an objective evaluation and approval of engineering programmes, ensuring that they meet international standards, the needs of the engineering profession and broader responsibilities to society, environment, and economy. Accredited programmes are internationally recognised, encouraging travel and the exchange of ideas and experience, enriching our profession.”

Trish Breen of Ibec, and Consortium Project Manager of the Apprenticeship, added: “We have been working together on these apprenticeships since 2015 when we first put forward our proposal. We launched in 2017 and saw our first graduates in 2019 and 2020. This accreditation from Engineers Ireland is a validation of all the hard work of academics and industry representatives, not to mention our hard-working industry mentors and, of course, our superb apprentices.

“The programmes have been a fantastic success. Feedback from employers, apprentices and graduates is overwhelmingly positive. To date, over 100 companies have engaged, and we have had over 400 apprentices across the four campuses in Galway, Sligo, Limerick and Cork. We are delighted to see that 44% of our companies are SMEs.”

Dr Xavier Velay, Head of the Department of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering in ATU, Sligo, said: “The consortium is thrilled with the multi-campus accreditation from Engineers Ireland. The excellent collaborative work amongst all partners, together with the approval from Engineers Ireland, is paving the way for the future of the Manufacturing Engineering Apprenticeship programmes.

We now have a framework, and a process, to further expand the consortium and broaden our geographical spread across the Island. We are also developing the Level 8 Honours degree as a progression route, and as an answer to industry demands for advanced skills and knowledge in the ever-changing world of manufacturing. We are excited that our contributions will enhance the manufacturing engineer of today, as well as developing the engineer of tomorrow.”