Irish show WorldSkills to take awards

Two young Irish people have won gold medals in the WorldSkills competition in Brazil.

Alina Sile from Bunratty, Co Clare, won a gold medal in restaurant service and Ross Wynne from Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, won a gold medal in aircraft maintenance.

Eight other Irish competitors won medallions of excellence during the four days of competition, placing Ireland 11th out of 60 countries.

Jan O’Sullivan, the education and skills minister, congratulating the winners and said it was obviously a particular source of pride for people like herself from the Mid-West to see Alina and Ross bring two gold medals home to Clare.

“But the success of Team Ireland across the board shows that young people from Cork to Cavan and from Meath to Mayo can rise to the top of their fields when we put the right opportunities in place,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

The team of 14 apprentices, all under 25 years of age, were in full-time training under the direction of their coaches for eight weeks leading up to the competition.

The Irish team has been funded by a number of different bodies, including Solas — the further education and training body — the Higher Education Authority, and institutes of technology across the country.

Solas chief executive Paul O’Toole said interest in apprenticeships is beginning to grow again, with around 3,000 people starting apprenticeships this year, an increase of 17%.

“Compared to the big fall-off in apprenticeships that happened during the recession, it is almost a 200% increase from where we were back in 2010,” he said.

Ms O’Sullivan recently announced a number of new apprenticeships in information technology, insurance, and financial services, in addition to traditional skills.

Mr O’Toole said apprenticeships are an ideal way for somebody to transition from school to the world of work.

The employer provides on-the-job experience to learn a skill and the State provides the formal learning to reinforce the education process.

The WorldSkills competition, held every two years, is the world’s largest professional education event.

Around 1,200 competitors from 70 countries and regions competed in almost 50 different skills and disciplines in Brazil.

In the last competition in Leipzig, Germany, Ireland achieved 11th place out of 53 countries. It is the fourth consecutive time that Ireland has won gold in aircraft maintenance.

Mr Wynne, 24, is currently an apprentice avionic technician in Atlantic Aviation Group in Shannon. His ambition is to become a licensed engineer.

Ms Sile, 22, originally from Latvia, became interested in restaurant service during her first year at Shannon College of Hotel Management, a role that included practical training in fine dining.

Her dream job is to work in a five-star hotel based in a ski resort.


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