One exciting new apprenticeship is the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) apprenticeship, which powers the original equipment manufacturing, installation and services industry.

This industry sells to national and international markets.

Their products are for use in the agricultural, transportation, materials handling, quarrying, construction equipment, food processing, recycling handling and allied industries.

If you love working with your hands, creating things and problem-solving, and the idea of working with mechanics, machinery, electronics or robotics appeals to you, then this could be the perfect career path for you.

Choosing OEM will give you the opportunity to work with a variety of engineering disciplines, while using components and processes to assemble, manufacture and service original equipment.

Expert support is key

Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board is delighted to be co-ordinating this national apprenticeship in association with collaborating provider Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board.

This is a new three-year programme, which gives you the opportunity to earn while you learn both on and off the job.

The apprenticeship, which is supported by a range of stakeholders including QQI, SOLAS, Enterprise Ireland and ETBI, will also give you the chance to hone your skills while getting a real insight into your chosen career.

The three-year programme consists of 16 weeks off the job training in a College of Further Education and Training in years one and two and 14 weeks in the final year, with the rest of the time on the job applying these skills in the workplace.

It boasts a broad range of modules, including industrial robotics and PLCs, testing and measuring of electronic systems, electrical and electronic technology, analytics and problem-solving and mechatronics.

You will also study health and safety, OEM practices and operations management, team leadership, applied engineering, engineering drawings and complete a capstone work-based project. These disciplines will help to provide excellent progression routes for learners who complete the apprenticeship.

Graduates of this new Level 6 QQI major award will receive an advanced certificate in original equipment manufacturing.

Graduates will also have the potential to continue along specific learning pathways up to and including Level 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications and the opportunity to progress into supervisory and management roles.

OEM is made up of a group of Irish companies, predominately in the engineering sector, that provide innovative and practical solutions to a varied range of customer needs.

Many of these companies are market leaders in their field and they vary in size from family-run businesses and SMEs to bigger companies such as Abbey Machinery, Combilift, Dennehy Machinery, Dennison, Geon Engineering, Jungheinrich, Keenan, Leidos, Tanco and Turmec.

Some of these companies formed an employer-led consortium in 2015 which made a formal application to the Apprenticeship Council for a bespoke programme of education and training supported by on-the-job application.

This submission was designed to meet the ever-changing skillset requirements of their companies and provide trained OEM apprentices to help bridge the gap for the OEM industry.

It also sought to provide career paths and progression routes for the apprentices. The programme development and delivery is funded by SOLAS.

Is an apprenticeship for you?

For those of you considering the OEM apprenticeship, it’s important to note that the programme is fully funded, which means there are no fees and you are paid while you work and study.

You will also be supported by an experienced and dedicated team made up of instructors and tutors in the College of Further Education and Training and mentors in the workplace who will help and guide you throughout your time as an apprentice.

This is a brilliant option for those of you who are moving on from school, have completed your Leaving Certificate and are interested in following your dream job with an apprenticeship.

It is also a fantastic option for mature applicants who may be working in another industry, but the pandemic has made you realise that you are not in the right career and would like to pursue your true passion.

Backed by Enterprise Ireland, it also serves to fill the skills gap faced by Irish equipment manufacturers and offers participants a rewarding and exciting career path from the moment your apprenticeship begins.

Futureproofing your business

For employers, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to recruit talented new apprentices who are passionate about their chosen career path in mechanical, robotic and electronic engineering.

You can also avail of the Government Incentivisation Scheme while improving your employee expertise, retention and loyalty within your company.

This programme allows apprentices to get crucial on-the-job experience while earning a salary and achieving their QQI Level 6 major award.

Your business will also benefit from attracting highly ambitious and talented employees who already have an interest in the industry and are committed to carving out a career for themselves and ready to hit the ground running when they qualify and join the workforce.

It is also an excellent opportunity for employers to help shape the next generation of learners at the very start of their career and support them on their journey to becoming skilled experts in their chosen sector.

This programme will also help your company address the employee skills shortage and is crucial for the recruitment at many indigenous and international companies based in Ireland.

You can use Government funding to prepare your workers for a meaningful future in your business, by gaining nationally-recognised qualifications.

Training apprentices is an amazing way to ensure your company has the skilled staff you need, while saving on recruitment costs and fostering higher staff morale.

You can also improve productivity in your business and the quality of your product and service, while supporting employees as they develop competencies that are directly relevant to their job.

Exploring your options

When you consider the incredible opportunities that ever-expanding apprenticeships in Ireland offer and the big bills for fees, accommodation and other expenses associated with the traditional higher education route, it’s not surprising that parents are also seeing the many benefits that apprenticeship can offer.

The German and Swiss systems have long recognised the virtues of world-class apprenticeships and the benefits of developing a varied range of skills that can open up exciting careers in a variety of sectors such as engineering, electrical, construction, motor, finance, digital, tech and so much more.

If you are a parent, you might be wondering right now what kind of career will suit your child? Perhaps you remember how unsure you were about which route to take when you were in second level and ended up opting for a degree that didn’t relate to the job you ended up in.

So does your child excel at creative, hands-on activities? Would they enjoy gaining on-site practical experience while building crucial work-ready skills for their chosen occupation?

Would they benefit from access to expert tutors, instructors and mentors who can support them as they earn, while they learn on the job and acquire nationally-recognised credentials that will help them progress in their chosen career?

Entry requirements

If you are interested in applying for an OEM apprenticeship you will need to secure a placement with a Solas-approved employer.

You will also need to meet the minimum standard under one of the following criteria:

  • Leaving Certificate (pre-2017) with grade D3 or higher in five ordinary level subjects which must include mathematics. Post-2017 applicants must have achieved five 06 in the Leaving Certificate, which must include mathematics.
  • Have successfully completed an approved pre-apprenticeship training course in an engineering discipline and demonstrate a proficiency in mathematics similar to 06 five subjects in Leaving Certificate.
  • A full award placed at Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications (EQF 4) which includes proficiency in mathematics similar to 06 in Leaving Certificate.
  • In the case where an applicant is 23 years or over (or employed in the OEM sector for three years) and does not meet the educational requirements specified above, they may apply through the Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) process.
  • Please note the programme is delivered through English. In the event that an applicant has English as a second language, a CEFR Level C1 of proficiency in the English language is required.

    It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide official evidence demonstrating English language competence at C1 Level.

    All applicants must pass the Ishihara Colour Vision Test (24 Plate addition) prior to registering on the programme.

    Applicants should apply through their employer who will compete the registration process.

    Get in touch

    This new apprenticeship can open doors to an extremely rewarding and challenging career path.

    If you’ve got the talent and the passion, then we’ve got the knowledge and expertise to help you develop your skills and bring you further along your journey.

    To become an OEM apprentice or an OEM employer, check out more details here.