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Galway Independent


The power of education

Wednesday, 11th January, 2017 1:00am

The Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board (GRETB) Training Centre offer a wide variety of training programmes for people who wish to enter, re-enter or progress within the jobs market.

“We train people who are both unemployed and employed and we offer full time, distance learning, evening and weekend training,” Ken Farragher, Area Training Manager explains.

“The GRETB also works very closely with local employers to train people for specific skill shortages that employers are experiencing. This training can take place in a company’s own premises and is supported by the GRETB,” he adds.

One of the most difficult decisions often facing people is what course to choose. The centre provides a range of training courses including business, engineering, IT, media, manufacturing and construction. The courses are run as day courses, evening courses, weekend courses and online courses, with apprenticeships, local training initiatives and specialist training programmes also available.

At the GRETB Training Centre, which is based in the Mervue Business Park, Mr Farragher says they are “very strong” on ensuring people pick the course best suited to them. “We feel one of our main strengths, is that we get people on the right courses.

“The dropout rate for some third level courses after the first year is, in some cases, 35 per cent. That’s a huge waste of a person’s time, the college’s time and also it’s stressful for the students and their families.”

According to Mr Farragher, the GRETB work closely with prospective students and the Department of Social Protection to identify courses and job opportunities.

“Most of our trainees will have had an interview with their case officer in the Department of Social Protection, where they can identify the training course for them before they come to us, they can then attend one of our information session where they can come in, meet the instructor, other trainees and find out what’s involved in the course itself.

“When they start the course they know everything about the course, they’ve researched our website, they’ve met the Department of Social Protection, they’ve met the instructors and this leads to a very low turnover on our courses once people start and they can get the career they want out of it.”

Apprenticeship training

The Training Centre’s main focus historically is on apprenticeships and the centre has up to 400 apprentices registered annually, including carpenters and joiners, electricians, fabricators, mechanics and plumbers.

The GRETB place a strong emphasis on developing skills that are easily transferred to the workplace and Mr Farragher says many of their courses lead directly to employment.

The training centre itself is practical-focused and is home to Europe’s only dedicated general operative clean room training facility aimed at general operatives. It gives people the opportunity to see what it’s like to work in such an environment, says Mr Farragher.

“People get a sample of what it’s like to work in a clean room where they have to get gowned up, they have to follow the work instructions in every detail, they’re working under artificial lights and people who haven’t worked in the clean room might realise that that’s not for them. For that person then we can offer training that will put them on a different career path such as beautician, accountant, welder etc.”

Free course places for the unemployed

Another main focus for the centre is working with unemployed people to secure places on courses aimed at getting them back to work. The GRETB provide training courses free of charge to the unemployed.

“We measure the success of our courses based on our placement rate into employment and that would be between 70-90 per cent of all our courses we aim to have people back into employment if possible,” Mr Farragher says.

For people out of work, it’s important they “have no gaps in their CV”.

“If they’re unemployed for any length of time it’s important that employers see that they’ve tried to upskill themselves. So we always emphasise the need to be engaged in training.”

For instance, for unemployed tradespeople, an instrumentation upskilling course will start next month.

“There are a lot of job opportunities for a person with a qualification to calibrate instruments,” Mr Farragher says.

Upskilling opportunities

A “change in the economy” over the last number of years has also led to the GRETB working with employed people who wish to upskill.

“We get a lot of people who are currently in jobs and they want to do a short course that they need to upskill themselves and that can be something such as receptionist skills, ECDL or it might be web design for small companies.”

Most people upskilling partake in the evening or weekend courses, with approximately 50 per cent of people attending Saturday courses already in employment.

For someone thinking of a career change, undertaking a new course can help them on their way.

“We have people coming to us who want to change their careers completely and they want to say, take up truck or coach driving, so we provide the driver training for them, we provide the vehicle, the instructor and the facilities and get them to a position where they can take their test and hopefully pass it.” For more information visit or call 091-706200. Registration day for fee-waiver and fee-paying clients is this Friday, 13 January, from 8am-5pm at the GRETB Training Centre, Mervue Business Park, Mervue, Galway.

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