On Monday, the 7th of January, the Minister of State at the Department of Education with special responsibility for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD met with representatives of the GeoDriller Apprenticeship consortium at an event in Institute of Technology Carlow. Minister Mitchell O'Connor stated, "I commend the work which has been completed to date on the development of the State's first dedicated apprenticeship for the development of the Irish drilling industry. I look forward to it being rolled out in June 2019. This will give opportunities to intending apprentices to pursue interesting careers and attain highly paid jobs. This is one of the many new professional apprenticeships that is being developed for industry.''
The goal of the GeoDriller Apprenticeship is to provide drillers with a dedicated FETAC level 6 qualification. The need for this qualification was identified by the drilling industry and in partnership with Geological Survey Ireland (GSI), the Institute of Technology Carlow and the drilling sector. The development of the proposal was led by Geoscience Ireland, on behalf of the GSI.
The GeoDriller Apprenticeship is currently being developed by a consortium composed of industry representatives, procurers of drilling services and Geoscience Ireland. At present, there is no formal pathway to a recognised qualification for drilling operatives working in Ireland. Drilling operations underpin the geoscience sector in Ireland. The Irish geoscience sector is a multibillion-euro industry in its own right which contributes vital support services and technical knowledge to wider society by supporting the delivery of critical infrastructure. The overall direct impact of the sector is €1.5 billion euro with an indirect impact of €1.8 billion. The sector supports 24,700 jobs when combining direct and indirect employment.
Drilling takes place in support of the activities below.
- Mining Operations
- Mineral Exploration
- Groundwater Research and Use
- Geothermal Energy Development
- Site Investigation (Infrastructure)
- Directional Drilling (for utilities)
The apprenticeship will be delivered with on the job training as well as through desk-based learning. The first intake of apprentices is anticipated to start the programme in June 2019.