BellTime Magazine Spring 2018 BellTime 9-5 - Page 7

BellTIME IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT THE CAO OR SCHOOL LEAGUE TABLES I didn’t follow a traditional career path to university. Instead I pursued local career options on my door step. The result has been the creation of a company in my home town, with 500+ jobs in Monaghan, which has become a global leader in the manufacture of innovative engineering solutions in warehousing and distribution. It does not feel long from I was 17 and considering life after the Leaving Certificate. I had initially planned to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a farmer but Padraig Duffy, my career guidance counsellor in St Macartan’s College, Monaghan, suggested I consider a career in engineering. So I filled out the CAO form putting UCD as my number 1 choice and for good measure I also applied to Queens University. Since Padraig Duffy knew that I was unlikely to pursue a degree course in Engineering, he encouraged me to look for a summer Job with Moffett Engineering a local engineering Company which I took up in July 1989. They specialised in manufacturing the Moffett truck- mounted forklifts. Working on the family farm I was used to fixing machinery. The Leaving Cert results came out and I got both my choices. Instead I deferred offers from UCD and Queens for 12 months and kept working. That "summer job" lasted for the next nine years. This appealed to me as I got hands-on experience of working locally. In addition, I developed skills through distance learning with Open University engineering modules. I found that hard work and a keen interest in learning was something that brought success. At age of 19, I was Chief Engineer, in charge of a team of five, some of whom had university engineering qualifications. When Moffett Engineering was sold in 1997, I went on to establish Combilift with Robert Moffett. Combilift is now one of the most significant employers in Monaghan. In 2018, as we celebrate our 20th anniversary, 12 Martin McVicar, Managing Director, Combilift. we are opening a €46 million new manufacturing facility in Monaghan. This expansion will bring new career and job opportunities to the young people of Monaghan and surrounding counties. To recruit employees is a challenge in itself. As I watch my own children navigate the education system, I question the continuous focus on examining college prospectus for career opportunities and the implied necessity that young people have to leave their home town to get a qualification. It is not all about the CAO or school league tables and the progression rate to university. It is time that parents and guidance counsellors look and see where the jobs are before they urge young people to pack up, leave their communities and head away to college. There are job opportunities in all our communities, that will lead to careers, that will allow our young people to develop the skills to contribute to economic development. As a society it is time that schools and guidance counsellors recognise the fact that industry can contribute to career planning and wants to engage. Currently, the narrow choices heavily promoted by the higher education sector to school leavers do not reflect the broad skill set or job-ready skills required to sustain economic growth and our communities. It is time to look locally, think globally and draw on the experience of our successful companies. So I am urging career guidance counsellors as they engage with students and parents to look beyond traditional routes and the glossy brochures. Locally, businesses throughout Ireland are involved in both the design of the curricula and the delivery of the programmes, leading to nationally and internationally recognised qualifications. Combilift has taken the lead in building a talent pool of young people both for the opportunities available with us but also across the border region. The Engineering Traineeship developed by Combilift and Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) 3 years ago is available at Monaghan Institute. Students spend 50% of their time in the work place & 50% in the Institute gaining practical hands-on experience in Mechatronics as well as a nationally accredited qualification. Other companies are engaging with ETBs around the country to develop courses that meet the demands of Irish businesses. This work will bring dividends to the region and ensure that we are supporting the creation of jobs for our young people. All of those who successfully completed the Engineering Traineeship were offered employment with Combilift in 2017. A traineeship gives participants the opportunity to develop cutting edge skills and knowledge on the job, making them more employable. Traineeships also enable employers to access a pipeline of talent and learners. The training content and occupational standards for traineeships are developed in consultation with employers, the education sector and regulatory bodies. Drop-out rates in some areas of higher education are high, with up to half of students failing to progress to second year in some courses. So pushing our children to enter courses that they will drop-out of is economic madness as BellTIME well as damaging to their own self-esteem. Career decisions should not be made based on the status of a course nor on the number of points achieved in the Leaving Cert. The push not to waste your points and accept your highest offer should not be the defining factor in a career decision. Traineeships, apprenticeships and further skills-based training, offer real opportunity to develop professional and technical skills which are valued by employers and are now so badly needed in industry. These courses are not second best options, nor are they for those who don’t achieve the high points, they should be considered alongside all other options. It is incumbent on career guidance counsellors and those of us in industry to work collectively to create greater awareness of the many alternative opportunities that exit. As we face the challenges of Brexit and increased competition we need to re-evaluate our approach to training and education and invest in our future by offering our young people real practical advice. At second level, my recommendation to students is to select subjects you enjoy rather than those that will get you the highest points. The same goes for 3rd level courses. Do not choose a career only for its potential salary. You should try to choose a career you enjoy which could even become one of your hobbies. Martin McVicar, Managing Director, Combilift. 13