Manufacturing operatives, glazers, IT workers and chefs are upskilling for future career opportunities

Skills To Advance programme meets the challenges of the modern workplace

A new initiative, delivered by Education and Training Boards, enables workers and employees to learn new skills and boost their future job prospects, thanks to a new re-training model.

The initiative has been established to enable targeted support for vulnerable groups in the Irish workforce, and is implemented through Skills to Advance programmes that have been developed to meet the challenges of rapid technological advances and the changing work environment.

“Skills to Advance is an exciting initiative that offers up-skilling and re-skilling opportunities to employees,” explains said Enda McWeeney, Cork ETB Training Manager.

“It benefits employees and SMEs through education and training. Skills to Advance can also assist SMEs in identifying their training needs and provide training for their workforce.

“Skills to Advance aims to equip employees to progress in their current job or take advantage of new job opportunities. Skills to Advance is more than a suite of existing courses, it is also about the development of new and innovative solutions to meet industry needs.”

Programme assists employers and boosts skills of staff

Skills to Advance programme participants: Andrew Ghader MRG Services (Trainer), Eoin McCarthy (Wesco Windows), Adrian Mallard (Duggan Systems), Michael O’Driscoll (Classic Windows), Cian Cosgrave (Duggan Systems), Padraig Burns (Wesco Windows), Raymond Ryan (Wesco Windows), Kevin Hegarty (Classic Windows), Gerard Buston (Duggan Systems), Kevin Hoare (Classic Windows), Eoghan Crowley (Classic Windows), Philip Shanahan (Duggan Systems), Eoin Mc Loughlin(Classic Windows).

The Skills to Advance programme aims to support both employers who need assistance in developing their workforce, as well as assisting vulnerable groups in the Irish workforce, particularly those who have lower skill levels and who need more opportunities to advance in their working lives.

CETB Cork Training Centre has recently provided training and certification to glazers, the first of its kind in Ireland under the Skills to Advance initiative.

Training for the glazing sector was identified as a skill need, as there was no recognised training or certification available for employees working in the area of glazing manufacture and installation.

Successful glazing initiative

“Through a collaboration with Cork-based Impact Training and a UK Training Company MRG a tailored solution was designed to meet business needs. Employees from Classic Windows, WESCO, SGS and Duggan Systems, have all recently completed training in Fenestration, Fabrication, Curtain walling and Glazing principles.

“The Glazing initiative is a great example of finding a solution to a problem, the Glazing Industry locally needed training and recognition of skills. Up to now there were no courses available to address this need in the sector, and now this has been achieved and is hugely welcomed by those who have availed of it.

"Three course types have been provided, which are short specific work-based courses with on the job assessments, and we are delighted to have found a solution which met the needs of industry. But this is just the start, the resources are available, if employers will support and encourage employee upskilling.

“This is really beneficial for the wider industry because everybody is going to need more advanced IT and tech skills into the future - and we can give it to them,” said Enda.

Valuable programme for all work areas: Manufacturing, bar skills, hospitality, IT, administration and supervisory

Skills to Advance is designed for all areas of work, with other initiatives including Good Manufacturing Practice, Continuous Improvement for the Manufacturing Environment. In the hospitality sector, it is providing Bar skills, Reception and Culinary skills, in addition to Administration Office Skills, IT Skills and Supervisory Management.

“Certainly the response from employers so far has been extremely supportive - they all agree this initiative is just what is needed,” Enda says.

“At this point, it is about getting the message out there that this initiative is available. What we want to get to is a situation where employers are telling us what they need, and then we can deliver those requirements. We will go out and meet with companies, sit down and listen to their needs, and then make it happen through our courses. We can see the benefits of this for everybody - the worker, the employer and the wider economy. Truly, the Skills to Advance initiative really is a win, win for us all.”

Cork Training Centre is reachIng out to employees and SMEs , if you have a training need or want to discuss how Skills to Advance might be of benefit to you please contact Cork Training Centre on 0214856200 or email For more information, visit:

In many cases there will be no cost to the employee or the business, this initiative is focused on developing the skills of the employees particularly those who have no recognised qualifications and helping them gain recognition and certification for the work they already do.

Classic Windows reaping the benefits of Skills To Advance

“The Skills to Advance programme is something very close to my heart, and I can definitely say that it has been a great benefit to the business,” explains Mary O’Sullivan of Classic Windows.

“I have been in this business for over 30 years, and the glazing industry never had a recognised apprenticeship or trade credential as such. There was clearly a gap in the market for a skillset related to the glazing industry, and indeed the lack of suitably skilled people available in the country since the recent recession put a significant constraint on many companies, including ours.”

Since the course has become available at the Cork Training Centre, Mary has enrolled many of her staff on a pathway that is already benefiting the business and its employees.

Programme boosts staff skills and helps companies recruit new people

“Not only can staff now become certified as glaziers, which is a tremendous career advantage for them, it has also helped greatly in recruiting new people into the company.

“So we now have a transformed situation where there are trained glaziers who have completed phase one and two, and we are eagerly awaiting phases three and four, which I believe are in the pipeline. Classic Windows can now offer employees a defined and certified career path thanks to Enda McWeeney and Cork ETB Training.”

Classic Windows, a company with a long, proud tradition

Classic Windows was founded 1983 and is based in an extensive 11000sq ft premises in Killumney Co. Cork. The spacious 1000sq ft showroom displays a wide range of uPVC, aluminium and alu-clad windows, doors and rooftiles in a variety of colours and designs. The experienced sales team are delighted to assist and advise homeowners on what best suits their home when changing their existing windows and doors or when building a new house.

All its glazing products are installed by highly skilled tradesmen which guarantees the homeowner a very good quality finish with minimal disruption to their home.

“One of the most remarkable things to come out of the Skills to Advance courses has been the confidence it gives,” Mary points out. “They now stand shoulder to shoulder with other lads in the company, and are even advising their colleagues on so many more aspects of the business from the technical to health and safety.

"So what we now have are employees who had initially been instructed by ourselves and older workers, in addition to the up-skilling they received at Cork ETB Training. The benefits are such that they are spread across the entire workforce and how we do business. I am delighted with Enda McWeeney and his team, and I can see the initiative growing and expanding well into the future.”

For more information on the Skills to Advance programme, visit: