Apprenticeships need to be made more ‘sexy’ – Writech CEO
More needs to be done to make apprenticeships “more sexy” to young people, a local CEO has said.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the Mullingar Chamber Business Awards on Friday night, CEO of Writech, Ted Wright, said that his firm is “finding it very difficult to get people that haven’t chosen a third level career”.
“To get people to be a mechanic, an electrician, or a plumber, they are very valuable to us as a business. They are the people who do the work for us. They are people who meet with the client or the people who service and maintain our systems.”
Mr Wright said that his firm, which designs, manufactures, installs and services fire protection systems, is finding it “much, much easier” to hire third level graduates.
“I feel sorry about that. As a 17-year-old I always wanted to be a car mechanic and my mother said go university first and get your degree and then I’ll put you through to be a mechanic.
“I’m not a mechanic, unfortunately, but I still love it. There are some really excellent careers as a plumber, electrician or mechanic.”
While acknowledging that the government has introduced a range of new apprenticeship programmes, Mr Wright says that more needs to be done.
“It’s just not sexy enough, for want of a better word. It’s not sexy to be a mechanic and it should be. An electrician after three years qualified would actually earn more money in our business than a graduate engineer.” Wright was speaking during a panel discussion, Ireland After Brexit and Covid – The Opportunities and Challenges. The other participants were Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Shane Keating (chief data officer, Ardonagh Group), Dr Anne Cusack (chair, Midlands Region Economic Forum) and Elaine Dunne (regional and sectoral head of business banking PTSB).
Founded in 1982 by Ted Wright, the current CEO’s father, Writech currently employs 160 at its headquarters at the Mullingar Business Park in Clonmore, as well 200 in the UK and 60 in Sweden.
The firm is also currently acquiring four new businesses, one in Spain, one in Dublin and two in the UK, its CEO revealed during the panel discussion.
Earlier this year Writech opened a new €1.8m design and innovation centre at its headquarters at Mullingar Business Park at Clonmore and announced that it had acquired Ce Sprinkler, a leading Swedish fire-protection business.