Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, the first group of trainees have recently completed the inaugural Utility Industry Specialist Traineeship programme at the National Construction Training Centre in Mount Lucas, Co Offaly.
What is the Utility Industry Specialist Traineeship programme?
The Utility Industry Specialist Traineeship programme at Mount Lucas, Co Offaly, which has the full backing of the CIF, Irish Water, and utility contractors, began in January of 2020, and was able to recommence following the March Covid-19 shutdown of the construction sector. The training programme is designed to upskill workers and train new entrants in best utilities construction practices.
It was developed and is delivered by the National Construction Training Centre in consultation with the CIF and some of Ireland’s leading infrastructure contractors, as well as utility providers. It is designed to give participants specialised training in a broad range of aspects involved in delivering and maintaining crucial national infrastructure. The intention is to create a pipeline of skilled people and upskill existing workers to deliver on projects in the ‘Project Ireland 2040’ programme.
What does the Utility Industry Specialist Traineeship programme comprise?
The traineeship involves intensive training at both the National Construction Training Centre in Mount Lucas and ‘on the job’ with contractors working in the sector. It is fully funded, with no additional cost to employers for the training. Participants will be trained in the following areas:
- Safe Pass
- Abrasive wheels
- Manual handling
- Confined space
- Plant operation (forward-tipping dumper, 360 excavator, telescopic handler)
- Location of underground services
- Signing, lighting and guarding of roadworks
- Installation of pipes in a controlled environment to simulate a public road
- Butt-fusion and electro-fusion of pipes
- Leak detection
- Pipe repair
- Swabbing and commissioning methods
- Introduction to formwork and steel fixing
- Groundwater control and temporary works.
Why does the construction sector need the Utility Industry Specialist Traineeship programme?
John Kelly, Centre Manager, Mount Lucas, says that the programme is a response to the large investment planned in water infrastructure in the coming years and to provide a pathway into the industry for young people. While the skills exist to do the work, they have never been certified.
“There has never been a qualification attached to the skills required to install and replace pipework until now,” John Kelly explains. “Upon successful completion of the traineeship, successful trainees will achieve a CABWI Level-2 Diploma in Network Construction Operations – Water (Main Layer), as well as attaining many essential industry-recognised training qualifications.
“This is an on- and off-the-job traineeship, similar to other traineeship models. It is not just about installing pipes. The course covers installing mains, pressure-testing and assessing the best way to join pipes in different scenarios and the range of skills needed to work in the water industry.
“It is designed to attract new people in and upskill people who have been in the industry for a number of years,” John Kelly adds.
Fergus Collins, Head of Capital Services, Irish Water, says, “This idea arose from Irish Water’s safety forum and is a great initiative on three fronts; it provides a route into the industry for young people, it supports the continual drive to improve safety by ensuring that workers are competent, and it ensures improvements in quality of output. Irish Water is fully supportive of the initiative.”
Sean Mannion, SHEQ Manager, Ward & Burke Construction and a member of the CIF Liaison Committee, says, “The traineeship is providing a firm foundation for young persons to enter the construction industry and gain a recognised qualification in utilities. The industry fully supports the traineeship to ensure the candidates gain valuable work experience with contractors delivering work for clients.”
Dermot Carey, Director, Safety and Training, CIF, says, “The programme is also open to school-leavers. It is a great new initiative to offer young people a pathway into the construction sector and a rewarding career. The successful candidates will be much in demand in the sector. CIF would encourage any young person who has an interest in this area to enquire about the programme, in addition to employers who wish to upskill their existing personnel.”
How to apply for the Utility Industry Specialist Traineeship programme?
The next Utility Industry Specialist Traineeship programme will run from January 2021. For more details, visit www.mountlucas.ie