For those of you who, for whatever reason, do not want to go to university this year (or ever) but want to continue formal learning, take note of some very interesting courses kicking off at Monaghan Institute.

OEM Engineering Traineeship

One such course is the OEM in Engineering Traineeship, the aim of which is to combine classroom-based learning and practical industry experience so that students come away with a solid understanding of engineering. This course trains students in the practical skills of machining, fitting, control systems, auto electrics, CAD and hydraulics. Most interesting about this course, however, is that students on it also do work experience in forklift manufacturer Combilift. Trainees work with Combilift for 11 weeks – in two- to three-week blocks spread throughout the year – while they spend 27 weeks studying in Monaghan Institute. The course is a year in duration, running from September until May.

All of the students who completed this course last year were offered full-time employment with Combilift when they finished the programme. This trend of employing students from the course is set to continue according to Martin McVicar, managing director of Combilift.

“We have more than 300 employees at the moment and we will continue to have a demand for skilled workers into the future.”

Martin says that a new €40m manufacturing facility will be fully open by next year. “We plan to double production over the next five years. This means that we have a need for skilled employees and this course provides us with the ideal type of employee, trained and committed to work,” says Martin.

Martin adds that while “trainees get a nationally recognised qualification after a year, there is nothing preventing them from continuing their studies on a part-time basis but in the meantime they have a job and are working locally”.

This is Combilift’s third year to be involved in the course. There are no large college fees to be paid by trainees as they receive an allowance from Combilift or the ETB through the Department of Social Protection.


Past student of the course Aidan Campbell says he really likes the teaching methods on the course.

“You are taught the theory through the practical demonstrations and then you get the real experience of working in the factory. The bonus is that when we finished the course and got our results, we got a job offer on the same day from Combilift,” says Aidan.

Another past student, Daniel Soden says the traineeship has a “great combination of theory and practical training. You can learn about how to do it and then see how it is done in practice on site in Combilift, and get the hands-on experience. You get a far better understanding this way than by just sitting in the classroom.”

This course is run by Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB). Course recruitment officer with CMETB Siobhan Mulleary says applications are welcome from both Leaving Cert and mature students.

“Applicants must be over 17 years of age and have completed their Leaving Certificate or equivalent with five passes (preferably to include mathematics, engineering or another technical subject). Applications from mature students will also be accepted and they are advised to contact us regarding the entry requirements. Entry is subject to interview.”

Those interested should apply immediately by contacting Siobhan Mulleary 049-435 3923 or, or Frank Woods at Combilift on 047-80500.

The traineeship is certified by City & Guilds and QQI at Level 5 Engineering. The course is funded under the European Social Fund.

Traineeship in Laboratory Techniques

Button/closed cup mushrooms hold the largest share of the Irish mushroom market followed by flat/breakfast mushrooms, value mushrooms and then the sliced and exotic mushrooms. This is the type of thing you’ll be learning if you embark on the Traineeship in Laboratory Techniques, which is also currently kicking off at Monaghan Institute.

The yearlong course is science-based, with a focus on the skills required to work in a laboratory, food production, quality control or science-related environment. The course also includes a significant amount of work placement with local employers including Monaghan Mushrooms. The placement is spread across the year in blocks of two to three weeks. The traineeship runs from September to May.

John Kearney, chief executive with Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) says traineeships are “a recognised and valued route for young people to gain a qualification and contribute to the workforce at the same time”.

John says: “The science sector is experiencing employment growth and trainees can use the qualification to enter the workforce or continue on to study for a higher level qualification up to degree level, if they so wish.”

Ronnie Wilson, chief executive of Monaghan Mushrooms has welcomed the cooperation with the ETB. Ronnie says: “Our employees are the foundation of our business and we are committed to helping them reach their full potential and achieve their ambitions.”

The CEO also said that students will have the opportunity to practice and develop their laboratory and research skills with a highly experienced R&D team who they will learn from in state-of-the-art facilities. He noted trainees would “learn about the science behind food production, the procedures to be followed when working in a laboratory, and the use of technology in science”.

As a result of the R&D programme, Monaghan Mushrooms has developed vitamin D mushrooms for the UK and Irish markets. The company is currently working on a pipeline of future initiatives which will lead to additional new products in 2018.

This is a recognised qualification in science with certification by QQI at Level 5. There are no course fees and trainees will receive either a training allowance or bursary. There are also other allowances available including travel and meal allowance. CL