IT Carlow breaks new ground with launch of Ireland’s first apprenticeship in Geo Drilling

The first ever Geo Drilling Apprenticeship Programme, developed by Institute of Technology Carlow in conjunction with Geoscience Ireland, has been officially launched.

Geo Drilling – the skilled use of a drill rig to advance holes for subsurface investigation work – is critically important to various sectors of the Irish economy, including quarrying; mining; groundwater research and abstraction; mineral exploration; geothermal energy development; site investigation for housing and infrastructure projects; and directional drilling for utilities. However, no formal qualification existed until now.

The Faculty of Engineering at Institute of Technology Carlow identified the need for a formal qualification in Geo Drilling and developed the apprenticeship programme in partnership with an industry consortium, which was yesterday launched by the Minister at Boliden Tara Mines, Co. Meath. The Irish Mining and Quarrying Society (IMQS), Geological Survey Ireland, the Federation of Group Water Schemes, SIPTU and Geoscience Ireland support the initiative.

According to Dr. Frances Hardiman, Head of Faculty of Engineering at Institute of Technology Carlow, there is already significant interest in the Geo Drilling Apprenticeship Programme from mining and quarrying companies and drilling contractors, with apprentices starting in 2019 from Boliden Tara Mines, QME Mining, Lenihan Well Drilling, Irish Drilling and Geological Survey Ireland.

“It is exciting to be adding the Higher Certificate in Science in Geo Drilling to the suite of new apprenticeships on offer in Ireland and expanding our apprenticeship portfolio in IT Carlow to include a necessary qualification in a huge industry,” commented Dr. Hardiman.

Sean Finlay Director, Business Development, Geoscience Ireland is the chairperson of the steering group: “Companies with qualified Geo Drilling Apprentices will have a competitive advantage in domestic and export markets. Framework requirements for drilling by state and semi-state utilities and agencies will increasingly require higher standards, including the provision of accredited and qualified drilling personnel”

Eoghan O’Neill, Manager of Human Resources at Boliden Tara Mines commented, “It is important that such a skilled discipline as drilling has a formal qualification, this is important not only for the individual but also for the company as it demonstrates investment in the development of skills and quality”.

The Level 6 Higher Certificate qualification will enhance the quality of services drillers can provide to clients in Ireland and overseas. Delivered by the Faculty of Engineering at Institute of Technology Carlow, the Geo Drilling Apprenticeship is a two-year programme combining work experience with academic study. Apprentices will work with employers for 41 weeks and attend classes four days a week for 11 weeks. Application is open to school leavers and mature learners, aged 16 years or older.

Apprentices will receive practical training in the use of drilling equipment and operating procedures as well as classroom training in areas such as: geology; geo-informatics; drilling equipment and operations; sample retrieval and processing;  environmental management and stakeholder engagement; health and safety; and communications.

For further information, contact Ger Keohane Programme Director ger.keohane@itcarlow.ie or Industry Liaison Stephen.walsh@gsi.ie