Ireland’s first dedicated High Voltage Electrical Systems programme was fittingly launched in the “industrial heartland” of the country – the South East, according to Sean Downey, Director of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).

In partnership with CIF, South East Technological University (SETU) and Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) co-developed and co-delivered the innovative 60 credit Level 6 programme to meet the changing needs of the industry.

The new programme was officially launched in SETU this week, in the presence of well-known industry experts.

Mr Downey remarked that some of the best companies in the region came together to assist in delivering this programme, which is designed to upskill electricians and electrical engineers in the highly specialised area of High Voltage. The programme aims to develop industry-recognised competence in areas such as High Voltage electrical installations, grid connections, substation maintenance and switching facilities.

Ireland’s electricity grid infrastructure has grown dramatically in recent years with the increase of large consumers of energy including large industry, data centres and the substantial growth in renewable energy provision.

According to Edmond Connolly, South East Regional Skills Forum Manager, “The specialised electrical contractors involved in the construction of such facilities acknowledged that they needed further specialised training for their staff working on high voltage electrical installations.

“This new qualification will help companies build their capacity to construct and manage high voltage facilities and also enable them to win new contracts abroad.”

Key to the development of the new programme was the involvement of the Construction Industry Federation’s Specialist Contraction Association which brought together Ireland’s leading electrical engineering firms who contributed to the design of the programme.

Head of Faculty at SETU and project manager for the programme, Dr Frances Hardiman said, “It has been a valuable experience working with a strong industry consortium and TUS to co-develop and deliver a bespoke work-based learning programme that utilises specialist skills in High Voltage from multiple sources, demonstrating the need for collaboration to deliver on the future skills agenda in engineering.”

Head of Department of Engineering Technology at SETU, Austin Coffey spoke of the benefits of the programme for employers in the industry. “This programme demonstrates what can be achieved for addressing immediate and future industry skills needs by a common goal with multiple industrial stakeholders and university partnership. I believe that this will be the first of many collaborations in joint programme development between SETU and TUS and other technological universities in Ireland,” he said.

Paul Cremmins, former Director of Suir Engineering, jumped at the chance to get involved, saying Ireland must prepare itself for the future. “This is a course that is being set by the contractors in collaboration with SETU and TUS. They have designed a course around our wants and needs,” he said.

The programme is jointly delivered by SETU and TUS in a part-time, blended learning mode over one year – summer to summer. It utilises a work-based model and will have 30% of credits achieved in the participants’ place of work.

The programme commences in May 2023 with 16 employees from industry, who will attend one day per week at SETU Waterford during the first semester and TUS Limerick during the second semester.

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