A year ahead of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the 14 young apprentices will be aiming to better the two golds and a bronze brought home from the last WorldSkills Competition in Germany in 2013.
The event begins in Sao Paulo next Monday but preparations have been going on for over six months since many of the Irish competitors emerged from the national skills finals at Cork Institute of Technology last December.
The college has three representatives on the team, in the construction metal work, plastering and dry wall, and welding categories.
Other well-represented colleges are Dublin Institute of Technology, whose apprentices are flying the Irish flag in automobile technology, industrial control and aircraft maintenance.
Apprentices training in Dundalk Institute of Technology hope to win medals in electrical installation and joinery, while Andrea Donoghue of Waterford College of Further Education and Alina Sile from Shannon College of Hotel Management are representing Ireland in beauty therapy and restaurant service.
The competition in Sao Paulo also has representatives in the carpentry, cabinet-making, plumbing and toolmaking categories next week.
In the last six WorldSkills competitions, held every two years, Irish teams have secured 14 gold, two silver and eight bronze medals — or one for every four competitors.
Another 47 of the 96 Irish team members since 2003 brought home a medallion for excellence, with the 2009 group finishing second out of 46 countries competing in Canada.
As full-time training over two months was being completed, Minister for Skills and Innovation, Damien English, said the competition provides an opportunity to celebrate and really value further education and training.
“I understand the really important contribution that apprentices are making to Ireland’s economic recovery. It’s time to give this contribution much broader recognition,” he said