Winners of the second level Generation Apprenticeship competition announced

Organised by SOLAS, the Generation Apprenticeship competition asked entrants to build an A letter from materials supplied that were previously destined for landfill.

The competition was judged through a two-stage process. The first round of assesment was undertaken by respected Regional Skills Forum Managers Natasha Kinsella (Dublin), Ray Murphy (North East) and John Costello (Midlands). This generated a shortlist of 13 finalists which were then judged remotely by a team of high level industry leaders.

These judges were Ian Barrett (Walls Construction), Paul Cremmins (Suir Engineering), Ciaran Gormley (Bennett (Construction) Ltd), John Moran (John Paul Construction), Kevin O’Brien (P.J. Hegarty & Sons U.C.) and Simon Watson (Jones Engineering).

When assessing the work, the judges considered the design of each entry together with how well they elevated the idea of apprenticeship and their potential to positively influence business and society on tackling climate change and sustainability.

Commenting on the extremely high standard of all of the shortlisted entries, the judges eventually chose Wicklow Youthreach as recipients of the €1500 top prize, with the Discovery Centre, Woodwork & Trades Team receiving the runner up prize of €750, and Bridgetown College and St. Nathy’s College, Roscommon each receiving €500 for finishing joint third.

“Congratulations and thanks to the 156 teams who entered the competition and to all our judges for their time. Thanks too to the sponsors and Teaching Union Ireland (TUI) for all their invaluable support,” said Andrew Brownlee, Chief Executive of SOLAS. “Providing students with the opportunity of engaging with top Irish construction companies has generated a unique set of insights around what they want from their future employers. It provided a unique platform for students to show employers that their understanding of a good job is measured by how good or bad it is for the planet. It is a powerful message which, if embraced, can help industry to develop more sustainably in the future.”

Competition winners Wicklow Youthreach used “A world in crisis” to capture the urgency of their message. Kevin Reid, KWETB Wicklow Youthreach said “We chose this theme for our Generation Apprenticeship project because we wanted to show how global warming is affecting the world. In our creation we used many different recyclable items and items that were destined for landfill. We hope this motivates people to think of how they can do the same. We are delighted to take first prize and believe it can lead to longer term and positive changes as we emerge from Covid-19 and into a new phase of recovery and growth for our economy and society.”

Stephen Dempsey, speaking on behalf of the Discovery Centre Woodwork & Trades team said “We wanted to capture the skill areas of woodwork, tiling, painting and decorating, and to emphasise how much material generated through these trades could be recycled and used again. We are proud to have taken second place.”

The Bridgetown College team of Caitlin Lambert Dunne and Therese Keating asked people to “Be a part of the solution not part of the pollution” and examined the link between waste going into oceans and the impact on animals’ natural habitats. In support of their “jobs need to be environmentally friendly” message they recommended that “construction companies in Ireland use renewable sources of electricity, plant trees near building sites and develop an energy efficiency in buildings workforce. We are over the moon with third place in such a prestigious competition.”

St. Nathy’s team members Ella Gallagher, Shauna Luby, Bethany Murphy, Rachael Davey, Ericka Ní Mhathuna, Anna Murray, David McGreal, Marcus Flynn and Padraig Taheny said “As a group of Transition Year students we wanted to show that something good can come by recycling material. We decided to take part in the competition because it was a unique opportunity to improve our problem solving and team building skills. When first introduced to the project we were interested in the variety of apprenticeships out there. They are not all in the construction industry as we had first thought. As a result our team is made up of 6 girls to just 3 lads with a mix of technical, creative, ICT, art and design skills. We were very happy with our final design and are delighted to achieved joint third place in a national competition.