Now in its fifth year, the TCH diploma has thus far produced 100 graduates, while another 23 students have been enrolled this year. Accredited to Level 8 with the Higher Education Training Awards Council (HETAC), the TCH diploma is unique among European print media in that its graduates are trained both as reporters and as sub-editors.
HETAC chief executive Séamus Ó Puirséil explains: “TCH has written the headlines with this diploma. It is the first media company to have set up such a diploma and attained international accreditation standards. It fits into the national framework of qualifications in Ireland as well as taking a lead in Europe in establishing such a comprehensive programme.”
The students spend the bulk of their time in real work situations, working closely with mentors and staff in TCH’s 18 newspaper titles nationwide. The in-class modules are delivered in the group’s Cork headquarters by highly experienced trainers from the British-based Editorial Centre, part of the PA media group.
Editorial Centre trainer Robin Thompson is the main visiting course lecturer for TCH in Ireland. The British NVQ Level 4 Journalism Qualification is based upon a diploma which Mr Thompson helped establish for the Westminster Press. He believes that the TCH qualification is better than any other he has encountered.
“What makes it special is that it doesn’t separate reporters and sub-editors,” said Mr Thompson. “The diploma is a quantum leap forward in career development for print journalists.”
This year’s TCH Student of the Year is Siobhán Breathnach, a journalist with the Sligo Weekender.
“I was delighted when I heard that Siobhán won this year’s main award,” said Brian Feeney, chief executive of the Western People and the Sligo Weekender, and one of the founders of the TCH Diploma in 2001. “She is a very good journalist right now, and I think she will be a great journalist in due course.”
TCH managing director Anthony Dinan concluded: “It is great that 18 students have found employment with us, as well as another five on contract. As for those members of staff who have taken on the course, it gives them access to a further education.
“I must compliment HETAC and Robin Thompson for all they have done for the course. I would also like to thank Cork Chamber, the Cork Business Association and the court authorities for their invaluable assistance with our students throughout the past year,” said Mr Dinan.