The RDS in Dublin will be packed with 28,000 school leavers next week, from the 20th to the 22nd, for the massive WorldSkills event. And Volkswagen Ireland will be there, trying to tempt the best of them into a career in the car industry.
Learn a craft
Over the three days, school leavers will be encouraged to take up apprenticeships to learn a craft rather than automatically picking a university place, and those apprenticeships can run the gamut from stonemasons to chefs and car technicians.
VW Group Ireland is sponsoring the Automobile Technology Competition, and the VW team at the event will be headed up by the Head of Group Technical Service at Volkswagen Group Ireland, Vicky Halton. Halton says: "Worldskills is key to recruiting the next generation of talent needed to power the switch to electric power. The leap to electric vehicles is a unique opportunity for technicians coming into the business. It's an exciting sector that is growing exponentially so apprentices who join now and gain the necessary skills will always be in demand. When you come to work as an apprentice for Volkswagen, you are not just becoming someone who tinkers with cars, you are effectively becoming a software engineer.
All of Volkswagen Ireland's 83-strong retail network runs apprenticeships for car technicians, while VW itself has partnerships with U Dublin and TUS's (Technological University of the Shannon) through the 'Access to Apprenticeships' programme.
VW also has a vast and state-of-the-art training centre - the National Learning Centre (NLC) - in west Dublin, where technicians can be taught in everything from electric car battery removal and repair to setting up the aerospace-level sensors that control a modern car's electronic safety systems.
Across its six brands - Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi, SEAT, Cupra, and VW Commercial Vehicles, VW Group Ireland aims to offer potential apprentices the broadest possible chance of finding their best job. "We have the broadest portfolio in the business. An apprenticeship through our dealer network is an internationally recognised qualification that opens doors wherever you want to work," adds Halton.
Founded in 1950, WorldSkills is a global organisation that promotes vocational, technological, and service-oriented education and training. Over 90 exhibitors will attend WorldSkills Ireland 2023, including Bus Eireann, ESB Networks, Fáilte Ireland and Amazon Web Services.
Ray English, Chairman of WorldSkills Ireland, insists skills and apprenticeship programmes are the "lifeblood" of many Irish businesses. "It is vitally important to secure the evolution of Ireland's economy and its place as a global leader, nurturing talent and encouraging the next generation to consider a skills-based career," he said.