Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Lynsey Gargan from STEPS to give some advice for people considering this job:


Lynsey Gargan

Manufacturing Engineer


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  Lynsey Gargan
With regard to education I say don't worry if you think you have the wrong subjects in school. I certainly didn't have the subjects you would typically expect.

There are a number of courses that cater to different backgrounds. The most important thing is to do your research. Go to open days, talk to the colleges and generally just find out what exactly you would be getting in to.

Don't just take for granted you know what a certain course or career is all about. Think about what you like to do, and not just necessarily in school, if you find yourself being curious about how things work or how thing are made, it's a good indication that you could like something like engineering.

One of the best things about engineering is that it really can be your passport to the world. There are great travel opportunities within the industry and chances to be involved in the next big thing.

Practically every man-made product around you came from a manufacturing plant, it's a huge industry with a lot of different avenues to take. Innovation is a really big part of what engineers do. The desire to be creative and improve production and processes is an important attribute for a manufacturing engineer.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Becoming an Apprentice
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Becoming an Apprentice

Before you look for an apprenticeship it is wise to do some research and make sure that you fully understand what's involved.

Before seeking the apprenticeship you should:

  • Check out the type of work being done in the occupation in which you are interested and be sure to see it first hand
  • Ask employers, qualified crafts people or other apprentices about the particular apprenticeship and potential career opportunities available
  • Seek the advice of your parents or guardians and career guidance counsellors as appropriate
  • Spend time thinking about what industry you would like to work in and narrow down your options
  • Investigate apprentice job opportunities with local employers
  • Look for apprentice job advertisements in local and national newspapers as many large organisations advertise their apprentice vacancies. You can also use the internet to find out about opportunities, to find companies in your desired field and to follow and learn more about them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Finally, you need to inform your local Employment Office of your interest in apprenticeship so that your details can be made available on request to employers.

How does it work?

  • The first step is to obtain employment as an apprentice in your chosen occupation.
  • Your employer must be approved to train apprentices.
  • Your employer must register you as an apprentice within 2 weeks of recruitment.
  • You must also meet the Educational Requirements [See Entry Requirements]

Who might be suited to an Apprenticeship?

There is no “ideal” candidate however, the qualities below are usually a good indicator:

  • Aged between 16-24 and still trying to decide what employment sector suits you
  • Interested in developing a particular skill or technical knowledge
  • Enthusiastic and keen to learn
  • Passionate about working with your hands
What Employers want
  • The ideal apprentice is a quick learner, good listener and someone who can effectively implement the training they receive.
  • Reliability is very important. Employers need their apprentices to show up for work and to be on time, to work hard and be focussed on the job.
  • The best apprentices are good problem solvers - during the day, minor problems can arise and companies need employees who can think on their feet and not always rely on others for help.
  • Having done work experience placements during your school programme will also help when trying to get into an apprenticeship. Employers like to know that you have some understanding of the workplace and the practical realities of daily work life.
Note: Experience has shown that higher grades of entry than those suggested by SOLAS are preferred for certain apprenticeships, due to the technical nature of the trade.

Employers typically seek applicants who have completed Leaving Cert including Maths (with at least a grade C3 in Ordinary Level Maths) and preferably Physics.

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