Monthly Archives: June 2018

NWCI Blog: Meet the Women Forging Careers with Tech Apprenticeships with Fastrack into IT

Aoife Sheehy, Tech Research and Development Officer at Fastrack to Information Technology (FIT), our latest group member, speaks to us about Ireland’s new and exciting Tech Apprenticeship. Aoife’s role @FIT is to research the skills demands of Ireland’s tech sector and to collaborate with stakeholders on how this thriving sector can provide opportunities for all.

With the prediction of almost 12,000 vacancies in the ICT sector the opportunities are boundless. Ireland’s leading companies are all embracing ICT for better ways to do business which has resulted in the creation of new roles that demand tech skills. The apprenticeships are for anyone aged 18 and upwards who seek an exciting pathway to a sustainable career in an industry that is renowned for flexibility, stability and creativity.

FIT are the National Coordinators of Ireland’s New Tech Apprenticeships which offers both on and off the job learning over two years in some of the country’s top tech companies. If you, or anyone you know, has ever considered a career in tech then this could be the perfect fit! For more information see here.

Blog from

So Aoife, tell me why is an apprenticeship a good idea for those wishing to enter the tech sector?

Apprenticeships are a fantastic opportunity for people to get practical experience from industry insiders and to develop both soft and hard skills in tandem. Not only do they cater to different learning styles, they also offer the chance to get a foot in the door with some of Ireland’s leading tech companies. On top of this they are well-paid and offer economic independence from the get-go! You will also obtain an internationally recognised technology qualification with a NFQ Level 6 Advanced Certificate on completion. The programme offers two distinct career paths; Systems and Networks and Software Development.

Tell me about why Gender Equality is central to your role at FIT?

Since taking on the role in FIT I have been fortunate enough to come across many females in tech companies that are leading change for the better but we need more! We truly believe that norms and attitude need to change surrounding females in Tech and are here to offer our full support for those wishing to enter the sector via the apprenticeship route. Our goal is to ensure gender balance and diversity are top priorities in the recruitment and retention of apprentices and have seen first-hand that an inclusive workplace has better outcomes for all. Reaching targets is not good enough and at the heart of our remit is placement and progression which we hope leads to full-time employment. Throughout the entire duration we are there to guide, mentor and support the apprentice to ensure that the learning experience is of high quality.

In a few steps, how do I become a Tech Apprentice?

  • Step 1: Apply online 
  • Step 2: Attend a schedule information and apptitude seesion.
  • Step 3: Attend an interview with FIT
  • Step 4: Participate in CV & Interview preparation workshops
  • Step 5: Interview with companies

What do you find most challenging about achieving gender equality in the recruitment of apprentices?

To be frank, there is still a misconception that tech roles are more suited to men. This is certainly not the case! In fact, more and more women are quickly realising that the tech sector offers greater progression opportunities along with attractive perks and flexibility. It is with this in mind that I wish to share the stories of ICTAP participants Hayley Corrway, Laura Loughnane, and Elizabeth Brocklebank to showcase their experience in a bid to inspire confidence in those wishing to pursue a career in ICT. Big thank you to all for sharing your experiences!
Hayley Corrway: IT Support Technician @Coca-Cola Ireland  FIT Associate Professional Systems and Networks Student in RSTC Regional Skills & Training Centre Dundalk

Hayley was an early school leaver whose return to education was her participation in ICTAP programme. While she had no technical background, her excellent communication, determination and aptitude for IT helped her to stand out. Since then her combination of commitment, great attitude and excellent results, Hayley beat off stiff competition in securing her place working as an IT Support Technician with Coca-Cola in Drogheda, Co. Louth.

“I never thought I’d get to work in such an amazing company doing a job I absolutely love. It’s a dream come true & I never would have been given the chance if it wasn’t for Deirdre Arnold & FIT. This programme is an incredible opportunity & I’d advise anyone interested in IT to apply for this course.” Hayley Corrway

Laura Loughnane: Software Engineer in Training at SAP  – FIT Associate Professional Software Development Student in GRETB Training Centre, Galway.


Laura came into the programme with no background in Software Development but with a passion for I.T. Through her hard work and determination Laura now works as a Cloud Support Technician with SAP Galway with many opportunities to learn and grow in the role.

“I never thought it was a possible for me to get into IT until I came across the Apprenticeship Program and even though it was a commitment and hard work, especially with no previous major IT training, with the right attitude and determination you can succeed. There is ample support given throughout the training and the tutors are knowledgeable and supportive. I highly recommended this course if you are looking for a gateway into IT at all levels of experience all you need is a natural interest in IT and determination. It is also fantastic to see more and more females working in the IT world that has been mostly male dominated in previously years.” Laura Loughnane

Elizabeth Brocklebank: IT Support Technician at Generali Link FIT Associate Professional Systems and Networks Programme in RSTC Regional Skills & Training Centre Dundalk.

Elizabeth came into the programme with no previous experience in Systems & Networks but with a passion and aptitude for IT, through her amazing attitude, commitment and hard work Elizabeth now works as an IT Support Technician with General Link, Global Specialists in Financial Solutions, Navan. 

“It’s a very supportive environment where you get practical experience of what you’re learning. I have always had an interest in IT and before this course I would never have had a chance to work in this area. I am now working in a job that I love” Elizabeth Brocklebank

FIT ICT Skills Audit for 2018 finds 12,000 current vacancies in the sector, offering quality job opportunities of diverse sorts to young and old alike.

The 2018 Audit finds demand is strong across a wide range of tech disciplines with 12,000 current vacancies in the sector as a whole, offering quality job opportunities at entry, competent as well as expert levels, and for young and old alike.  Tech companies are keen that more people, and especially more women, should be aware a variety of careers can be pursued in the sector, many of which do not require a third level qualification to start but rather a blend of technical know, passion for IT and good people skills. Many of the in-demand skillsets for the tech roles on offer can be acquired through further education and training vocational programmes delivered by Ireland’s 16 Education and Trainings Boards (ETBs).

At the launch of the report Peter Davitt, CEO FIT said, “the Audit highlights that, while there is robust demand in the IT industry for people with third level qualifications, there are currently even more vacancies for people at skills levels that can be attained through tech related programmes at Level 5/6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. It also demonstrates clearly that the Further Education and Training sector has an increasing role to play in addressing the immediate gap and foreseeable skills needs in Ireland.”

Liam Ryan M.D SAP (Labs) Ireland said, “the traditional path of going from the Leaving Certificate into four or more years of university is not the sole route to a tech career nor does it suit everyone. We must create multiple pathways to ICT careers that are attractive to a broader range of people. I’m delighted by the support expressed by tech companies through-out the country for the new Tech Apprenticeship which has the goal of 1,000 apprentices per annum by 2021.”

This latest Audit, which took place in in the period July 2017– January 2018, shows the major job growth in the sector is being driven by just by the expansion of existing IT companies but by the wider adoption of new IT technologies as more companies seek to use them to climb the value chain.  Currently, over 130,000 people are now employed in tech related sectors of the economy.  More tech companies in Ireland, both foreign and indigenous, are embracing key drivers of change such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud-based technologies, etc.  These technologies have potential in all industrial sectors to enhance productivity and performance.   

Other key findings from the FIT Skills Audit 2018 include:

  • There is strong demand for ICT practitioners across all disciplines and at different skills levels – 58% of immediate vacancies are for employees able to exercise skills at the competent and entry levels and 42% are at the expert level.
  • The demand is on the part of SME’s as well as of large corporations.
  • ICT jobs have grown in locations right across the country, both rural and urban.
  • Many of the vacancies require people who are tech savvy and have transferable skills and competencies in areas such as project management, entrepreneurship, marketing and customer service.
  • Tech sector companies also have many ancillary roles in areas such as logistics, administration, sales and marketing etc.
  • The prospect of skills shortages constraining companies’ business plans is growing. This is increasing employer support for the roll-out of the new Tech Apprenticeship and their desire to attract more women into the sector.
  • Tech related roles do not exist just in tech sectors but have emerged in practically every sector of the economy as new and emerging ICT technologies are able to impact the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of everything from agriculture to medicine.
  • Communications and problem-solving were voted first and second most important attributes with regard to transferable skills and professional development.


Paul Sweetman, Director Technology Ireland and FIT Board Member said, “since 2011, a staggering 34,500 jobs have been announced by technology companies in Ireland – large and small, indigenous and multinational. The FIT Audit points to an array of skills needed over the coming years. The Audit also supports the emergence of alternative routes into the sector. The ICT Associate Professional Programme Tech Apprenticeship is now seeing real traction and is a solid example of what modern apprenticeships can achieve. Graduates will display robust technical skills coupled with entrepreneurship and business savvy, acquired through direct and sustained work experience. It is an exciting compliment to the current availability of strong courses at third level.


About FIT

FIT is an industry-led initiative which works in close collaboration with government departments and national education and training agencies, local development organisations and a host of community based organisations. Its primary partners in education and training include SOLAS, ETBs, ETBI, Technology Ireland, Intreo, Third Level Institutions, Regionals Skills For and local development / community organisations.

FIT’s mission is to promote an inclusive Smart Economy by creating a fast track to marketable technical skills for those with the aptitude and ambition to commence a career in ICT. FIT is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. The Initiative develops and promotes technology-based programmes and career development opportunities for job-seekers wishing to progress in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. FIT commenced in 1999, operates nationally.


FIT Media Contact                                                   

George Ryan, COO FIT.                                                                         

Mob: +353 86 244 9536