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Engineering: Apprenticeship route or college route

  • #2
    Registered Users Posts: 81 ✭✭ Hontou


    One of my children took a year out to work after their leaving cert last year to earn money to go to college. The plan was to do engineering in UCD and they have the points based on last year's. (I know they may go up).

    They found out they can do a level 7 mechanical engineering degree while doing an apprenticeship and are going through the process of interviews for this at the moment. This seems to be a fantastic option. Get paid and get a degree simultaneously. The qualification will come from an IT as opposed to a traditional university and they can do a level 8 top up in future apparently.

    Financially it seems to be a no brainer (if they get it). Is there a catch? Are they selling themselves short bearing in mind they have the points for the more traditional route? Surely engineering (and most skills) are better through learning by doing. I'm asking as friends are telling me that they are better off going to college. I personally know nothing about engineering so don't know how to advise but feel I should as a parent.


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Comments

  • #2


    Hontou wrote: »
    One of my children took a year out to work after their leaving cert last year to earn money to go to college. The plan was to do engineering in UCD and they have the points based on last year's. (I know they may go up).

    They found out they can do a level 7 mechanical engineering degree while doing an apprenticeship and are going through the process of interviews for this at the moment. This seems to be a fantastic option. Get paid and get a degree simultaneously. The qualification will come from an IT as opposed to a traditional university and they can do a level 8 top up in future apparently.

    Financially it seems to be a no brainer (if they get it). Is there a catch? Are they selling themselves short bearing in mind they have the points for the more traditional route? Surely engineering (and most skills) are better through learning by doing. I'm asking as friends are telling me that they are better off going to college. I personally know nothing about engineering so don't know how to advise but feel I should as a parent.

    Depends on who they might be doing apprenticeship with...If it is decent company/multinational I’d go that route - they will pay for any education he/she needs in the future if they prove themselves....

    However child may not be mature enough/ready for work/not want to miss out on college experience!! Only you and him/her know that answer...


  • #2


    The interviews are with multinational pharmaceutical companies. The work is in manufacturing but I think the engineering is mechanical or some kind of processing. They are not after the student social life but that may change. Presumably they would be surrounded by young people in the factories anyway? They have been working part time and Summers for a few years which has given maturity and independence but still only 18.


  • #2


    Hontou wrote: »
    The interviews are with multinational pharmaceutical companies. The work is in manufacturing but I think the engineering is mechanical or some kind of processing. They are not after the student social life but that may change. Presumably they would be surrounded by young people in the factories anyway? They have been working part time and Summers for a few years which has given maturity and independence but still only 18.

    Go for it so - I work in manufacturing API in HR...Government and companies in general are pushing apprenticeships as part of national strategy for 2025....To be clear nothing against university method but definitely the way to go...Yes any half decent multinational will be paired up with fellow kids so to speak....Great career move provided they are ready - I was an eejit at that age but have met plenty ready to go so to speak - hopefully your kid is like that :)


  • #2


    No brainer.

    Go for it. The only caveat is that you may narrow your employment opportunities.

    College grads know a little about a lot, so they're a huge range of jobs they will at least be vaguely familiar with.

    Your child might be the opposite, and be very pharma focussed with zero other experience. Not a huge drawback, plenty of pharma jobs around, but worth telling them to keep their eyes open and keep learning.


  • #2


    I would be inclined to go with it as well but there are a good few things to consider.

    How do they find school? I was great in school and foud classroom learning brilliant but was very poor at study myself. When I went to UCD after school I hated it, 200 people to one lecturer and trying to learn maths via PowerPoint and expected to do three times the self study time Vs lectures so less than 18 hours a week of tuition for what was a full time course.

    First year was grand but really struggled with new material in second year. Construction was booming back then (I'm civil) so I moved to dit part time while working 30 hours a week. I had one day classes and two evenings a week, teachers thought as opposed to lecturing, knew you by name etc and I found it a much better learning environment and was making good money in the meantime.

    It was still tough as I had weekends off but most of my friends were working part time jobs and did their nights out midweek which couldn't do with work. I got made redundant midway through the degree in the recession so went back full-time in UCD, which I still hated but I had better motivation having been in the workforce and genuinely found the later years of the degree easier as they were more practical / real world orientated as opposed to pure mathematics.

    When I was DIT, half the part time course were from one particular employer who wasn't giving them enough time off to study or attend lectures. Many of them had to repeat years because of poor attendance / results etc, making and 8 year programme for a level 8 degree even longer.

    The money will be great initially but after four years, when all their school mates have graduated and are making fill time money, it might not seem such s good choice

    Just s few points to consider!


  • #2


    It's no harm to contact the course administrator or someone from the careers Dept of the IT they'd be studying at.

    They'd be able to give you more details on career outcomes or what they need to study further once the student qualifies with the apprenticeship. You're right in that another top year of study would be needed to get the Level 8 qualification a full time student at UCD would graduate with.

    If you look up the course website there's usually an email or contact info for someone you can ask questions too. Remember they're there to be asked so don't feel like you're imposing on them or should know the details inside out before you contact them.


  • #2


    OP here. Gosh. that is some really helpful advice. Thanks all for your time. I was wondering how I hadn't heard much about these apprenticeships. They are clearly relatively new and sponsored by the government. Makes them sound even more appealing as there are clearly jobs in the area. As a parent, an apprenticeship is a gift. Will save me €10,000 a year as we don't live near any college. Sounds like an apprenticeship will suit her character better than college. She has strong work ethic and even though she is academic, she doesn't want to waste time. Hopefully the pharmaceuticals are here to stay.


  • #2


    OP, it's worth remembering that a technician role (from an apprenticeship) and an engineering role (from a degree) need different skillsets, not really a continuation of one to another. Both are equally valid careers, but IMHO your daughter is better taking a detailed look at what both entail and picking what they prefer. Obviously they can transition and do a Level 8 etc. in future, but it's more money and time to do this.

    From personal experience, what you think you want to do leaving school and what you end up preferring (and being good at) can be very different.


  • #2


    OP, it's worth remembering that a technician role (from an apprenticeship) and an engineering role (from a degree) need different skillsets, not really a continuation of one to another. Both are equally valid careers, but IMHO your daughter is better taking a detailed look at what both entail and picking what they prefer. Obviously they can transition and do a Level 8 etc. in future, but it's more money and time to do this.

    From personal experience, what you think you want to do leaving school and what you end up preferring (and being good at) can be very different.


    As well as the skillet, the methods of learning are very different too.
    We've a lad here, is almost 2 years into a similar apprenticeship, and loves it. Got a good leaving, went to Uni studying engineering, but got lost, hated it. Was just a number, thrown into big halls with no link between the theory and the real world. He's half way to a level 7 degree, and is getting well looked after by his company, who will encourage him to continue to level 8.

    At the end of the day, a level 8 degree is a level 8 degree, it might open a door for you, but I'm seeing lots of graduates in manufacturing who wouldn't have the hands to bless themselves. If they are practical minded, I'd encourage the apprenticeship, if they have worked there already they will have a good idea of what to expect. They will be very employable anywhere with a good level degree and several years experience.

    PM me if I can help.


  • #2


    UCD's engineering courses are level 9, with an option to exit at level 8 that fewer and fewer students are taking. A level 7 qualification and a level 9 one are apples and oranges. The details vary from discipline to discipline, some would have an overlap in terms of careers while others are nearly completely different jobs. I'm not a mechanical engineer, so I can't comment on that one. The current masters courses have excellent internships (mostly paid) in 4th year, which seem to really bridge the practical divide.

    In general though, I'd say if they're capable of the points for UCD Engineering, they'd be wasted in an IT, and a level 7 qualification would limit their career prospects.

    There are financial supports if you're going to struggle in that regard. Talk to the university admissions office, and they'll put you in touch with them.


  • #2


    mikhail wrote: »
    UCD's engineering courses are level 9, with an option to exit at level 8 that fewer and fewer students are taking. A level 7 qualification and a level 9 one are apples and oranges. The details vary from discipline to discipline, some would have an overlap in terms of careers while others are nearly completely different jobs. I'm not a mechanical engineer, so I can't comment on that one. The current masters courses have excellent internships (mostly paid) in 4th year, which seem to really bridge the practical divide.

    In general though, I'd say if they're capable of the points for UCD Engineering, they'd be wasted in an IT, and a level 7 qualification would limit their career prospects.

    There are financial supports if you're going to struggle in that regard. Talk to the university admissions office, and they'll put you in touch with them.

    You can get a level 8 or level 9 from the likes of dit, while working part time.

    The level 9s from UCD are extremely similar to the old level 8s, the main difference being the dissertation


  • #2


    mikhail wrote: »

    There are financial supports if you're going to struggle in that regard. Talk to the university admissions office, and they'll put you in touch with them.

    We earn over the threshold for the SUSI grant and accommodation in Dublin seems disproportionately expensive. College in Dublin is fine for students whose parents live there. For the rest of us, colleges in cheaper parts of Ireland makes more sense. It seems to me that the apprenticeship is the way to go followed by a level 8 and possibly level 9 in a University after it........if they then let students join at that stage.


  • #2


    Alkers wrote: »
    You can get a level 8 or level 9 from the likes of dit, while working part time.
    Which will still be a qualification from DIT (or TUD, I suppose), in which your scores are depressed because you're half-assing it because you're working at the same time.
    The level 9s from UCD are extremely similar to the old level 8s, the main difference being the dissertation
    That's not remotely true. The level 8s have a (slightly smaller) dissertation. The difference is an extra half year of coursework and a 6 month internship.


  • #2


    Hontou wrote: »
    ...accommodation in Dublin seems disproportionately expensive...
    Yeah, it's a curse.
    For the rest of us, colleges in cheaper parts of Ireland makes more sense.
    So why not go to Galway, Cork, Limerick, etc. for a level 8/9 course?
    It seems to me that the apprenticeship is the way to go followed by a level 8 and possibly level 9 in a University after it........if they then let students join at that stage.
    They do, providing the grades in the previous courses are high enough.


  • #2


    mikhail wrote: »


    That's not remotely true. The level 8s have a (slightly smaller) dissertation. The difference is an extra half year of coursework and a 6 month internship.

    I was in UCD when the transition from the Level 8 to level 9 programme took place, the vast majority of the level 9 modules are the exact same as those that were offered on the level 8 programme with the same past papers etc. It's a better qualification on paper absolutely but in terms of actual education it's almost identical. I did two 3 month internships as part of my level 8 degree there also.


  • #2


    Your information is out of date.


  • #2


    I started into an apprenticeship a bit later than the norm but still young enough in ths grand scheme of things. I was deadset against a degree over an apprenticeship as im a hands on kinda fella and i would have been working away farming and studying part-time had i to go down the degree route.

    I hadnt a clue about the mechanical side of things whatsoever before starting but ive taken to it so far like a duck to water. Ive been humming and hawing about doing a mechanical engineering degree on the side the last while online would have been ideal however the only practical path would be TUDs part time course which is 5 years and a good few evenings during the week which is too big a commitment for me to make. I suppose im really only appreciating education now as im near a year working the guts lf 50hrs a week plus 10hrs commuting and tbe costs that go along with it for about €350/week while theres lads fresh out of school thick as a ditch floating around with us playing the game and getting €700/week into the hand

    I would encourage youre daughter to grab that opportunity with two hands and put the effort in with it. Once qualified she shouldnt have to look for work compared to her peers who have just geaduated with a degree and little to none industrial experience.

    Do you mind me asking what the actual apprenticeship is?


  • #2


    Do you mind me asking what the actual apprenticeship is?

    Some kind of manufacturing with a pharmaceutical company. There seems to be a few positions, some are hands on and others are on a computer.


  • #2


    Hontou wrote: »
    Some kind of manufacturing with a pharmaceutical company. There seems to be a few positions, some are hands on and others are on a computer.

    Have you checked Apprenticeships.ie it gives a fairly detailed run down on all the apprenticeships on offer these days.


  • #2


    Have you checked Apprenticeships.ie it gives a fairly detailed run down on all the apprenticeships on offer these days.

    No. Thanks. I'll tell her about that. She might know about it already. Although whatever I recommend will send her in the other direction. I'm just the nosey parent......but I do want to ensure she's not making the wrong decision. When she told me about it I felt it sounded too good to be true. Hope she gets it now.


  • #2


    Sounds a no brainer. From someone who went straight into a level 8 I wish I started at level 7 because the students who merged into our level 8 course from the level 7 had a much better grasp of what they where doing due to the 1 extra year in college


  • #2


    mikhail wrote: »
    So why not go to Galway, Cork, Limerick, etc. for a level 8/9 course?

    That would look like a better option if the issue is just financial (rather than an actual preference for an apprenticeship).

    There are plenty of good courses across the country, so there's no point just confining the choice to UCD. I've hired graduates and never put much weight on where their Level 8 or 9 came from.


  • #2


    That would look like a better option if the issue is just financial (rather than an actual preference for an apprenticeship).

    There are plenty of good courses across the country, so there's no point just confining the choice to UCD. I've hired graduates and never put much weight on where their Level 8 or 9 came from.

    She looked at NUI Galway but said she had to do 5 years there? Her friends doing engineering there told her the ITs are better for more hands on experience. It was researching the ITs that made her aware that some of the students there are on apprenticeships and the earning and learning together seemed more appealing....and she doesn't want to cost us a fortune either. We had saved money all along for education but had a bit of bad luck recently.


  • #2


    I faced this dilemma a few years ago when studying a level 5 in engineering as a mature student. There was an opportunity to do a level 7 degree under a sort of apprenticeship (paid) and it was specifically "automation engineering". It was very tempting and a couple of my classmates took up the offer when I told them about it. I decided against it, because I wanted to keep my options open and decided on a mechanical engineering degree.

    Automation is in demand, but mechanical engineering gives more flexibility and opens doors to many areas in demand. It was a tough choice to be honest. The real test is to ask if the course would even be considered were it not for the financial incentive.


  • #2


    I came through the traditional route of an honours degree in an IT, I ended up working in an engineering research centre in the UK.
    I am not a traditional academic person, but I have to say the I'm glad for the hands-on experience we got, and while it was nowhere near as in-depth as an apprenticeship, the ability to use machines/make prototypes stood to me in the path I followed.

    My classmates who came through the Level 7 degree and into the level 8 were even more skilled in the practical areas at the cost of an extra year in college. There are parts of me that wishes that I went that route, rather than the direct one.

    The apprentice route is better established/visible in the UK, most of my colleagues there had taken the Apprentice>Degree>PhD route with time in industry in between.
    If she thinks the practical part is calling to her then for me that's an important element. There are routes to reskill or develop and that doesn't just mean a degree route, smart and driven people with hands-on experience in machining, robotics, automation are in demand and well paid.


  • #2


    Update: My daughter has been offered 2 apprenticeships, both with multinational (US) medical device companies. One with a big name company in Automation engineering in Cork, the other is in Manufacturing engineering and the company is smaller and is in Dublin. I am advising Cork as it is the bigger company and rent in Cork is cheaper. Are there benefits/drawbacks to a bigger/smaller company? Which engineering is better in terms of job prospects down the line? She has medicals for both this week and does not want to waste either company's time but is genuinely interested in both.


  • #2


    Bigger companies tend to have more defined student programmes (as they have more students to manage), but there's a bigger risk of being pigeon-holed into just one area during the studies. The opposite for smaller companies. All else being equal, I'd go for the smaller company just to get a better breadth of experience.

    There might be little difference between them in practice, better to have your daughter check them out and then see what the preference is.


  • #2


    Turbulent Bill, do you think the changes to corporation tax could mean being pigeon holed into a type of automation engineering, could be foolish? Will there be jobs in this area if the big pharma companies leave? Presumably not. If they leave because of tax changes.... that decision surely will be a few years into the future and she will at least get her degree with the apprenticeship so could travel for work. I see the wisdom now in doing a more general degree in engineering.


  • #2


    From my own experience the larger company would seem to be the better option however there cant be too many small players in the line of work youre daughter is entering into. I get overtime pay after 39hrs, subsistence money when on site as well as double pay for half my Saturday shift, these are technically industry standards but anyone i know who served there time with a small outfit never got those benefits.


  • #2


    OP I'd go into this with eyes open.

    The qualification on offer here is not equivalent to the degrees on offer from universities.

    Personally I love the plan of apprenticeships. But as someone who has bounced around my career a lot, I have relied heavily on my university degree (civil engineering). I really didnt know at 18 what I wanted to do.

    My main point is to find out exactly what would be required to get to level 9 after, if she decided that is what she wanted or even further.

    Sometimes the practical element of these things is over-egged. I currently share a room with 2 mech engineers. The 1 excelling has the personality for it and zero prior experience.

    The peers I graduated with have all , bar 2 of us, moved drastically from their chosen fields and all used heir degree to do so. I mean into things like management consulting, lobbying, managing a tech start-up, maintenance manager...... Again at 18 none of them really chose the right field


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