Second level students from across Ireland are being asked to think beyond mainstream professions when it comes to looking for work experiences as the number of industries where jobs need to be filled are crying out for suitable candidates. The call came from Ciaran Cannon, the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills.
“Students that undertake work experience learn valuable skills that are applicable across a range of industries, and learning those skills at an early stage is a vital component in making them more attractive for employers in the future. I would encourage students to take a broad view on where future opportunities for employment lie, because the skills learned now in the workplace will stand you in good stead for your future employment prospects.”
Minister Cannon was speaking at the 2012 National Career Skills Awards, which took place in the Department of Education today (May 22nd). The Awards, which were created to recognise students who show clear progress in the identification of suitable career skills, are run by www.careersportal.ie.
The competition has now been running for four years, with over 1,000 students from 223 schools across the country taking part this year. Data from previous years has shown a small percentage of students taking up work placements in the STEM sector but CareersPortal recently announced that the ICT sector is committed to providing over 100 work experience placements through the WorkXperience programme on the CareersPortal website from September onwards.
114 schools made their entries online this year and there were 102 entries ‘as gaeilge’ as students eyed up the special prize for the best winning entry in Irish. Most encouragingly for all those involved the entries covered 480 career titles, given this year’s competition the widest scope for possible career paths seen to date.
The National Career Skills Awards are run by CareersPortal which equip students and career guidance counsellors with information to assist in making informed career choices and the competition is sponsored exclusively by McDonald’s Restaurants of Ireland. Minister Cannon presented awards to three winners in each of the categories, Leaving Cert/ Leaving Cert Vocational Programme, Transition Year Programme and Leaving Cert Applied Programme. There was also 2 special awards on offer for the best Transition Year entry developed ‘as gaeilge.’ Winning students displayed a clear understanding of a chosen career, the courses needed that might lead to it, the most relevant knowledge requirements and the most important career skills needed to be successful in it.
Dr. Kevin Marshall, Head of Education, Microsoft Ireland commented on the awards “We’re delighted to be part of these awards and welcome the initiative by careersportal to encourage students to understand more about the requirements needed for the jobs of today. While there is obviously an unemployment problem in Ireland right now – there are also a large number of vacancies in the high tech sector. As industry leaders, we support any initiative that helps educate young people – particularly young women - about the opportunities that a career in technology presents. We need to help shift perceptions and ensure that young people understand and get excited about the opportunities that this industry presents – in reality the opportunities are endless. By doing this we can help ensure that our talented young people choose to join this sector helping to give them a satisfying and rewarding career. I would like to congratulate all of the award winners and wish them well as they follow their chosen career path.”
Eimear Sinnott of www.careersportal.ie said “The announcement by the ICT sector that it will be offering 100 work placements is a timely boost as we look to direct more and more students towards professions where jobs are currently available. The numbers looking to gain experience in this area is on the rise, and while the popularity of established careers like teaching and medicine still holds, I am heartened to see more and more students thinking ‘outside the box’ when it comes to gaining work experience. This will stand to them in the future.”
Sinnott commended the work of Guidance Counsellors at 2nd level schools and highlighted their particular importance in these difficult economic times. She said that "the support, focus and direction they give to our students, helping them make the best educational and career decisions, while still being mindful and understanding of their individual needs, can not be underestimated".
Alison Hodgson, McDonald’s Ireland HR Director concluded “The National Career Skills competition is one that McDonald’s is extremely proud to be associated with, and it serves to further underline the consistent commitment McDonald’s makes in placing an emphasis on providing its employees with a range of opportunities to broaden their skills base through life-long learning. For students, gaining work experience will be an invaluable asset as they look to enhance their future career prospects and these awards serve as the ideal way to recognise the efforts they put in.”
The winning students were:
1st place: Roisin Leonard; Arklow Community College. Career Investigated: Assistant Animal Carer
2nd place: Ciara Turner; Rockford Manor, Blackrock. Career Investigated: Childcare
3rd place: Keith Kelly; Athboy Community School. Career Investigated: Mechanic
LCA - Highly Commended:
Jemma Doran; Mullingar Community College. Career Investigated: Primary School Teacher
Emma Fitzsimons; Rockford Manor, Dublin. Career Investigated: Baker
Kevin Mee; Gort Community School. Career Investigated: Agriculture
1st place: Sarah Shanahan; St. MacDara’s Community College. Career Investigated: Paediatric Surgeon
2nd place: Darragh Fitzgerald; Coláiste Mhuire, Church Street. Career Investigated: Medicine
3rd place: Matiss Drusts; Wexford Vocational College. Career Investigated: Electrical Engineering
LCE/LCVP - Highly Commended
Jennifer Dunne; Mullingar Community College. Career Investigated: Primary School Teacher
Natasha Ogunnowo; Mountrath Community School. Career Investigated: Surgeon
1st place: Laura Healy; Mercy Secondary School, Ballymahon. Career Investigated: Physiotherapy
2nd place: Niamh Kennedy; Skerries Community School. Career Investigated: Theatre Assistant
3rd place: Sarah Craig; Dundalk Grammar School. Career Investigated: Film Production
TY - Highly Commended
Mairéad O' Donoghue; John the Baptist Community School, Limerick. Career Investigated: Veterinary Surgeon
Emily McKeon; Royal School Cavan. Career Investigated: Dentist
Siomha Murphy; St Vincents Secondary School, Dundalk. Career Investigated: Marketing
Michael O' Meara; Colaiste Mhuire, Askeaton. Career Investigated: Press Photographer
Shellie Galligan; Gaelcolaiste Luimnigh. Career Investigated: Primary Teacher
Aoife Troxel; Dominican College, Galway. Career Investigated: Architect
Eva Jones; St Vincents Secondary School, Dundalk. Career Investigated: Barrister
Gerard Killoran; St Francis College, Cork. Career Investigated: Radiographer
Louise Finneran; Athlone Community College. Career Investigated: Community Pharmacist
Duais Speisialta as Gaeilge:
1st place: Lorna Ní Shúilleabháin; Coláiste Íosagáin, Co Átha Cliath. Career Investigated: Máinlia
2nd place: Mairéad Ní Dhonnacha; John The Baptist Community School, Limerick. Career Investigated: Tréidlia
As Gaeilge - Highly Commended
Clíodhna Ní Artagáin; Coláiste na Coiribe, Gaillimh. Career Investigated: Múinteoir Bunscoile
Aedín Ní Dhónaill; Coláiste Íosagáin, Co Átha Cliath. Career Investigated: Achtúire
Aisling de Fuitléigh; Coláiste Íoságain, Co Átha Cliath. Career Investigated: Fisiteiripeoir
Michelle Nic Gill Fhinnéin; Coláiste Íosagáin, Co Átha Cliath. Career Investigated: Dochtúir
Congratulations to all who participated!
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