first_imgThe huge crowd at the Donegal ETB Further Education and Training Fair 2015 in the Mount Errigal on Thursday. Photo- Clive WassonThey may have been occupying comfortable seats on the stage at the Employers Panel discussion organised by Donegal ETB but these were no armchair generals handing out advice without having first stepped onto the minefield that is the careers market.Four of the county’s brightest and most energetic business people – each of them boasting leading positions in top ranked companies and educational portfolios to match.Each provided the platform for an open debate on a range of inside information on what employers are looking for when they take on new staff and detailing how key training resources are when it comes to finding work. That range of knowledge and experience transformed itself into a morning of positive thinking for the large attendance of students and job seekers who carried it into the further education and training fair which followed the panel discussion in the Mount Errigal Hotel.Dearbhla Kelly, ETB with guestsPadraig Monaghan, Managing Director, UnitedHealth Group, Catherine Monahan, Human Resources Lough Eske Castle, Declan McBrearty, General Manager, KER Group and Declan Thomas Industrial Relations and Human Resources Executive at the Donegal ETB Further Education and Training Fair 2015 in the Mount Errigal on Thursday. Photo- Clive Wasson“Donegal people are the best workers in the world bar none,” Managing Director and Vice-President Government Claims Operations at United Health Group, Padraig Monaghan, insisted, a viewpoint that injected further confidence into the collective mindset.He was accompanied on stage by Catherine Monahan, Human Resources Manager at Lough Eske Hotel; Declan McBrearty, General Manager with the Killybegs based KER Group; and Declan Thomas, Industrial Relations and Human Resources Executive with IBEC North West in Donegal Town.Thursday’s event was chaired by Dearbhla Kelly, Guidance Counsellor with Donegal ETB while in an introductory address, Shaun Purcell, Chief Executive, Donegal ETB, spoke of the quality of training that was available and the benefits of being based in Donegal including quality of life and the cost of living factor. “Further education is really important,”he maintained. “Education is not just about learning, it’s also about personal fulfilment.”He reflected on the story of the job applicant who forwarded his C.V. in a shoebox as he wanted to “get a foot in the door”.Ronan Crehan and Donal McFadden at the Donegal ETB Further Education and Training Fair 2015 in the Mount Errigal on Thursday. Photo- Clive WassonGetting a foot in the door was precisely what the four main speakers were about and the subsequent discussion was laced with accounts of their own advances into the job market and encouraging advice on how those looking for employment can shoehorn themselves into jobs.Declan Thomas, who is also a qualified solicitor, said there were many good companies located in the North-West who were expanding year on year. He advised job seekers to do some homework on the companies in their area and highlighted the sustainable jobs that were available in the various sectors including healthcare, hospitality and retail.Catherine Monahan said when Lough Eske Castle had opened in 2007, it initially boasted sixty employees. This figure currently stands at 160 and will rise to 190 over the next few months. “There are great opportunities for advancement and promotion,” the Human Resources Manager revealed.Padraig Monaghan, who has been Senior Vice-President, Government Claims Operations since October 2012, and has teams located in Ireland, America and India, disclosed that between 70 and 80% of their staff were non-I.T. And half of those had no formal third level education at all. “It’s not all about high-tech,” he pointed out.Declan McBearty joined the KER Group – the company specializes in a range of engineering services to the offshore industry – after finishing secondary school in 1999, having gained his apprenticeship in electrical trading. His message to the attendance was that they were never too old to do an apprenticeship, citing a KER employee who had registered as an apprentice just before his 30th birthday.Further advice followed from the panelists – the importance of customer service skills, communication and interpersonal skills, undertaking computer courses, never viewing a task as being beneath you, employing a proper attitude, and boasting a sound knowledge of the company you are applying to join. The issue of age arose again but as Ms Monahan insisted: “It does not matter what age you are if you have the right attitude.”The question of the JobBridge programme, which has come in for some criticism, was posed by the chairperson with the UnitedHealth Group representative, Mr Monaghan revealing that his company did not avail of this particular scheme as they preferred to create permanent employment.”That is the local choice we have made but I believe JobBridge has had a lot of negative press which is unwarranted.”The positive progressions of the quartet of companies involved were mirrored in the story of the KER Group which is about to open new premises in Killybegs. Its General Manager pointed back to the recessionary days of 2011 when staff had to be let go and when they were forced to implement a plan for survival. Four years on they were now focusing on a plan for growth.All of the speakers highlighted the main benefit Donegal had when it came to attracting industry and visitors to the county. “People come to our hotel from all over the world and it’s the people they talk about,” the Lough Eske Castle representative stressed.In his closing remarks, Declan Thomas pointed out that education was key and declared that employees were keen to see that job seekers had invested in themselves.Reflecting on the panel discussion and the Training Fair, Sean Debney, Adult Guidance Coordinator, described it as “excellent”.“All of the questions posed were very relevant and the advice was very practical. We’re very happy with the turnout from students and the general public,” he added.*****************************************************************VIEW FROM THE STANDSSusan Morgan, representing St Mary’s University College in Belfast, expressed “surprise” at the number of mature adults attending the fair. “It’s not something I’ve encountered at other fairs that I’ve been at. Normally, those attending these fairs would be in the younger age bracket but here, there’s a great diversity and a huge range of people which is very interesting.”She added: “We have a few every year from Donegal at our college and we’ve had a few enquiries here again today. One man who had been in the construction industry for twenty years was one of those expressing an interest. He wasn’t old enough to retire and said he needed to rethink where he was going.”Marketing Officer with the Letterkenny I.T., Nicola Dunnion, revealed a lot of enquiries concerning both full-time and part-time courses.“We’ve had great feedback here at the LYIT stand – the fair offers a great opportunity to showcase what we can offer and also what the county can offer in terms of further education and training options.”The ETB stands were also extremely busy throughout the day. “People are looking for a down to earth approach and that’s what we offer here.“This lets them see the range of courses that is available. It’s important that the right people are involved in the right programmes and that’s what we are here to help them with,” pointed out ETB representative Chris McGee.The Regional Employment Service, based at the Congress Resource Centre on Letterkenny’s Pearse Road, offers a range of services and advice on helping people to securing work.“We can also offer advice on C.V.’s and interview techniques and the like. We’ve had quite a few enquiries today asking about training courses that are available,” indicated Helen Clarke, Project Officer with the R.E.S. “People know what they want and are quite specific.”Close by, the Congress Resource Centre stand, has also been receiving enquiries “mostly about courses” as Anne Marie Carroll discloses. “Most of the people I have spoken to are quite positive which is very encouraging,” she stated.At the stand for the Gartan Outdoor Education and Training Centre, Sean McCrudden said there had been a “good reaction” to what they had to offer. “There has been quite a lot of interest with a lot of people asking about part-time courses.”The Centre, he revealed, offered a 44 week course on a five day a week basis. “It has generated a good deal of interest,” he added.********************************************************FROM A CABINET MAKER TO A DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGYFrom the craft of cabinet-maker to a degree in psychology – not a journey many will have undertaken in the leap from career to further education.But Gweedore man, Dominic Boner, has done precisely that – and is not finished yet as he trawls through the variety of options available at the Donegal ETB Further Education and Training Fair.“I worked as a cabinet-maker but then that work dried up somewhat. And then I changed track completely,” he laughs.A one-year access course got him into the psychology degree course at Magee College in Derry. “It was just an idea I had and something I decided I wanted to try. “At 54 years of age, he considers his educational pursuits will bring him down a few more avenues. “I’m planning to do a range of courses and the Training Fair is giving me a lot of good insights into what’s available.“It’s always something to fall back on if things don’t pick up again in the cabinet-making industry,” says Dominic.****************************************************************************A TRUE GROWTH INDUSTRYConor Gallinagh knows more than most the value of growing into a career. His family run the well known Finn Valley Nursery Garden Centre in Stranorlar where he has spent many a hard-working day tending to the needs of a large customer base.“I grew up with it having been involved from knee-high and it was always something that interested me.”He is currently undertaking an honours degree course in Horticulture at U.C.D. and to this end is spending a six weeks work placement with the body, Teagasc providing integrated courses in his native county. “It’s a very intense course, very science based for the first two years.”As part of his placement, Conor is helping to man the Teagasc stand at the ETB fair and is in the perfect position to point patrons in the right direction.“There are very diverse career options out there in the horticulture industry. A lot of work out there,” he insists.Local Education Officer with Teagasc, Art McGrath, says the demand for agriculture courses has never been greater. Part of the reason for this he puts down to the new CAP regime which stipulates training schemes for those involved in the industry.“We’ve been busy enough here today. For instance we took along eighty brochures to give out and all of them are gone at this stage,” he points out.**********************************************************************HOW THE STUDENTS VIEWED IT…Both Danielle Grant from Ballybofey and Shannon Meehan from Letterkenny were impressed with the information they had received.“At every stand, they were willing to talk through everything with you which was very helpful. It’s certainly given me food for thought,” said Danielle.Shannon agreed. “They couldn’t have been more helpful. But I’ve a lot of reading to do now,” she smiled, as she carried out a handful of brochures and booklets from the fair.Katie O’Rourke echoed the viewpoint. “It’s an excellent event, very well attended and very well run. The range of providers is very impressive and there’s a lot of information available.“ETB has done a fantastic job in organising this,” she declared.NEWS FOCUS: DONEGAL WORKERS ARE BEST IN THE WORLD, ETB JOBS FAIR TOLD was last modified: April 2nd, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalETBjobstraininglast_img