Career inspiration and advice at Ireland Skills Live

Hardware Jobs exhibited at the inaugural Ireland Skills Live, a three-day careers fair and skills event celebrating skills, apprenticeships and trade careers, in March this year. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

Ireland Skills Live saw an attendance of over 12,500 comprising students in Transition Year and above, teachers and career guidance counsellors (CGC) descended on the RDS Simmonscourt for information from employers and advisors about careers in various sectors and trades including construction, hospitality and manufacturing/engineering.

Hardware Jobs were there to promote careers opportunities in hardware retail/builders’ merchanting, supply and manufacturing. Hardware Jobs were joined by industry  representatives Dwayne Holt (Blackrock Builders Providers), Jason O’Mahony (HPC Group) and Rachel Reddin (Kelly’s Homevalue) to advise Transition, Fifth, and Sixth year students on how they can get started in a long-term career in the hardware/DIY industry. Teachers, CGCs and Parents were very interested to find out more about alternative options for their students/children, like on-the-job-training and structured sector specific traineeships and development programmes, as well as 3rd level opportunities leading to a career.

Learning on the job

Visitors to the Hardware Jobs stand learned straight from employers that to get started in the sector they don’t need experience, “just the right attitude”. Students interested in getting started in the sector were advised to use their initiative and talk to their local hardware business owner or manager about potential work experience opportunities (and upload their CV to www.hardwarejobs.ie to connect directly with employers), and how, once they get started, there’s no end to their learning and development.

From Day One new employees in a hardware store are learning on the job, and over time get an opportunity to find their specialty area, whether it be in sales, stock control, logistics, or even in a specific product area, and over time, through mentoring and training, they can progress either upwards (from junior to senior level) or sideways (learning new skills in new departments or product areas).

Over the three days Hardware Jobs and HAI were pleased to see the growing interest from younger job seekers about careers in this sector, going by the number of visits to the stand, and the enthusiasm expressed by both students and CGCs.

What else was on at Ireland Skills Live

In terms of promoting apprenticeships and skills careers to students, Ireland Skills was a resounding success. In their after-event survey 61% of surveyed students said they would
now consider an apprenticeship/skill as a career path, and 97% surveyed left with a positive perception of apprenticeships after their visit. This is an encouraging trend as a new generation of job seekers is welcomed into the sector.

Ireland Skills Live was a celebration of apprenticeships and skills careers, with national skills competitions taking place in areas including construction (categories including plumbing & heating, plastering, and carpentry), manufacturing and engineering, hospitality (restaurant service, cooking, beauty therapy) and more. The winners were announced on the Saturday evening at an awards ceremony, and they will go on to represent Ireland in their respective category at the World Skills Olympics in Russia.

The hardware sector had an impressive presence at the event with HAI members Grafton Merchanting, Crown Paints and Snickers Workwear all sponsoring materials over the three days. Toolfix, Ireland’s biggest tool shop, also had a very impressive display, where they sold everything from power tools to workwear.

The event also had some special visitors including an tUachtarán Michael D Higgins and John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development who visited some of the competitors and exhibitors, which was testament to the  importance of the event.

What employers in the sector should be doing

Since the launch of Hardware Jobs (www.hardwarejobs.ie) in Summer last year we have seen a boost in employment in the sector, and are starting to see more entry level opportunities coming available from employers, and a growing interest in apprenticeships, traineeships and other programmes. This is a trend that needs to continue.

HAI and Hardware Jobs will be participating in further careers fairs and events across the country, promoting and educating students and CGCs on career opportunities in the hardware industry, and in various trades. We welcome and encourage employers to join us at future events to promote careers in the sector.

Jason O’Mahony, HPC Group, points out the importance of reaching out to guidance counsellors –

“CGCs are very good at funneling a certain type of enthusiastic young person who maybe doesn’t want to go to college, or not yet, but instead wants to start earning. We forget not everybody wants to go to college. As an organisation, there are big gains to be made by HAI in focussing on how we target this demographic.”

“I believe it was really important for our industry to be represented at this event and to get the word out that there is a host of career opportunities within hardware, builders merchants, manufacturing and supply. I would encourage everyone who is interested to get
involved at these events as it is a great opportunity to expand our recruitment pool and make good connections with school leavers, career guidance counsellors and career seekers.”

– Rachel Reddin, Kelly’s Homevalue.

If you are an employer in the sector and are interested in collaborating with HAI and Hardware Jobs at future careers events, or would like to advertise vacancies with Hardware Jobs, then email aoife@hardwareassociation.ie or call 01 2980969.