IT Sligo’s international reputation for producing high calibre apprentices has been highlighted once again with the selection of two of the Institute’s student craft specialists for the 2017 WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi later this year.
Joinery apprentice James McSwiney (pictured), who’s originally from Ardee, Co Louth, and apprentice toolmaker Micheál Flynn from Tourlestrane, Co Sligo, have both been selected for Team Ireland to compete in the United Arab Emirates next October at the 44th WorldSkills Competition.
WorldSkills is the largest professional education event globally. Hosted every two years, competitors from 75 countries demonstrate their excellence in a number of different skilled trades and technology contest areas.
IT Sligo has had a proven international record of accomplishment in the joinery and Plastic Die Engineering disciplines, having provided no less than 17 Ireland team members for the WorldSkills competition down through the years.
James McSwiney won the IrelandSkills National Joinery title earlier this year in Cork, and recently came through a grueling training and testing module to earn his selection on the Ireland team. James is employed by John Sisk & Sons Ltd, one of Ireland’s biggest construction firms, which also has a strong track record of nurturing the skills development of its staff.
“It’s exhilarating to finally be on the plane to Abu Dhabi,” said a delighted James.
“I’m very grateful to my work (John Sisk & Sons) who have been very accommodating in giving me the necessary time to train for the world play-off.”
James will now balance his work commitments with an intensive ten-week training programme at IT Sligo, under the supervision of John Joe O’Reilly, lecturer in the Institute’s Advanced Wood & Sustainable Building degree programme. John Joe is also a former IrelandSkills joinery winner, and has had extensive experience of preparing apprentices for the WorldSkills competition, having been Ireland’s Chief Joinery Expert since 2009.
“The selection process was very challenging for James,” explains John Joe. “After winning the National IrelandSkills competition, he competed in a two-week play-off here at the Institute against top student competitors from DIT, GMIT and Dundalk IT for the coveted place on the Ireland team for WorldSkills 2017.
“The standard of joinery was international class and I want to acknowledge the work of the runner-up Brad Moore from Donegal, who’s employed by Noel Moore Building Contractors. He will be first reserve for WorldSkills and he would be a very capable and skilled representative on the Ireland team.
“The success of IT Sligo in producing apprentices of this calibre is also down to the work behind the scenes of the Institute’s technical support team of Peter Gillespie, Colin Harte and Liam McCaffrey. That back-up has been an invaluable part of the process.”
Joining James on the Team Ireland plane to Abu Dhabi in October will be Sligo’s Micheál Flynn, a Toolmaking apprentice, employed by Tool & Gauge in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo. Micheál was the national winner of the IrelandSkills Plastic Die Engineering (Toolmaking) category, held earlier this year in IT Sligo, beating four other finalists from around the country.
Like James, Micheál also had to come through a WorldSkills play-off during June as part of the qualifying process.
“A work colleague of mine at Tool & Gauge, Donal Logan, represented the college at the last WorldSkills in Brazil two years ago, so I think got the motivation from seeing what he achieved,” said Micheál, who will spend a week’s preparation in Germany using specific machinery tools before he completes the bulk of his Worldskills training at IT Sligo during August and September.
He will be supervised during that time by Seán Dalton, lecturer in Mechanical/Precision Engineering at IT Sligo and Armin Phillips, lecturer in Toolmaking/Precision Engineering.
“The WorldSkills finals are held over a four-day period during October under intense pressure and an extremely high level of quality and expertise is required in order for international honours to be achieved,” explains Armin.
“We will be working to create a similar environment for Micheál during his training so the focus will not only be on the competitors’ technical knowledge but also on their physical fitness given the grueling schedule of the four-day WorldSkills event.”
Congratulating both apprentices on their selection for WorldSkills 2017, Dr Brendan McCormack, President of IT Sligo said: “The selection of James and Micheál for the WorldSkills competition highlights how IT Sligo’s expertise in disciplines such as precision engineering and joinery makes it uniquely placed to produce specialist graduates who are forming a new generation of manufacturing excellence in this country.
The 44th WorldSkills Competition takes place in Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, in the United Arab Emirates from October 15-18th, 2017.
For more event information, visit the WorldSkills2017 website.