MTU, Cork, October 23: Munster Technological Student (MTU) student Hazel Johnston is the first ever female winner of the Apprentice of the Year.
Hazel, a Year 3 MTU Manufacturing Engineering student was crowned Apprentice of the Year at a gala awards ceremony in Dublin’s Mansion House on Friday October 20.
More than 220 apprentice award nominees attended the awards ceremony, with 14 finalists from eight different industry categories collecting awards including in Hospitality, Food and Healthcare, Hairdressing, Finance and Insurance, ICT, Property Services, Recruitment and Sales, Manufacturing Engineering, Biopharma, Logistics and Motor, Electrical and Construction.
Congratulating Hazel, Simon Harris, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, said, “I especially want to congratulate Hazel on her fantastic achievement. As a Department, we are working hard to increase the number of females taking up apprenticeships and, while it is heartening to see the numbers increase every year, we know much more needs to be done.
“Hazel, and the many other female apprentices pursuing their dream careers across Ireland, should act as an inspiration to others considering the path they want to take in life.”
Speaking on Hazel’s award, MTU President Professor Maggie Cusack, said, “On behalf of MTU, I want to extend our sincere congratulations to Hazel for her outstanding achievement in becoming the first female apprentice of the year. It's a huge honour for Hazel and recognition of her dedication and talent as well the entire MTU team, who have supported her throughout her education.
“Hazel's award is also testament to the successful relationships between MTU and our industry partners, such as DePuy Synthes, where Hazel is an apprentice,” Professor Cusack added.
Hazel said she was “ absolutely shocked and thrilled” when she heard her name called out as Apprentice of the Year at the awards ceremony last Friday.
From Lanesboro in Co. Lonford, Hazel chose to study engineering at MTU exactly because of the apprenticeship programme, saying that by the time she graduates she will have compelling industry experience.
“From the moment I started in DePuy Synthes I was made to feel so welcome. Being nominated by the team there is great recognition for what I have accomplished. Likewise, at MTU, because there’s such a personal connection you’re never afraid to ask for help or assistance.”
“I hope my award inspires and encourages other female students to consider apprenticeships such as at MTU and just go for it,” Hazel said.
At the gala awards, Hazel was joined by MTU students Elaine Kavanagh and Nicolas Davies who were also nominated by their respective companies (Stryker and ESB Networks) for their outstanding work in their apprenticeships.
“Hazel’s outstanding achievement highlights the calibre of education at MTU, but also the dedication of the students and their support teams”, said Niall Morris, Head of Department, Mechanical, Biomedical and Manufacturing Engineering at MTU.
“Furthermore, our industry partners such as DePuy Synthes, Stryker recognise the calibre of students from MTU, especially as they are responsible for nominating students and the mentorship they provide,” Morris added.
“Hazel’s win reaffirms the winning strategy in Cognitive Manufacturing Apprenticeship,” said Darren Fitzgerald, an MTU lecturer and Programme Co-Ordinator for the Manufacturing Engineering Apprenticeship.
“The consortia-based programme is at the forefront of technological advances and collaboration between industry and education ensuring that graduates develop both the hard and soft skills on their way to becoming world-class engineers,” Fitzgerald said.
Dr Mary Liz Trant, Director of the National Apprenticeship Office, said that apprentices are transforming the landscape of Ireland’s skilled workforce, bringing exceptional diversity, creativity and innovation into their industry and workplace.
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