Declan McElwaine of Electrical Appliance Services, with the key partners supporting an industry-wide drive to combat a major shortage of electrical repair experts. The new ‘Circular Economy Skills Initiative' course aims to produce enough experts to help extend the lives of fixable white goods and ensure they don't end up going to waste.
Back in the day mending things was commonplace – if your Da couldn’t repair a broken electrical appliance there was always someone in a workshop somewhere who could. Often it involved using second hand spares and a great deal of ingenuity, but things got fixed.
There used to be a man called Fintan Murphy who had an electrical repair workshop in Francis Street for years where he fixed everything from a hairdryer to a TV and charged very little for his efforts.
In today’s throw-away society however, perfectly good electrical devices are often binned without any attempt being made to repair them. But now a new generation of repair technicians is to be trained to prevent thousands of tonnes of electrical appliances going to waste each year.
The new ‘Circular Economy Skills Initiative’ course, taking place in Co Meath, aims to produce enough experts to ensure thousands of washing machines, fridges and dishwashers are given a new lease of life in homes and businesses across the country.
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The free training course will be run with the support of Louth Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) in a state-of-the-art centre in Dunshaughlin.
WEEE Ireland, the White Goods Association and technical training agency FIT (Fast Track to IT) joined forces to create the innovative curriculum and career pathway.
Up to 20 trainees will complete the pilot 26-week programme, followed by 12 weeks’ guaranteed work placement with leading white goods industry supporters of the programme.
"This new course is a fantastic solution to some of the circular economy challenges WEEE Ireland members face,” said WEEE Ireland CEO, Leo Donovan.
"It helps address a skill that is vital to ensuring we can keep householders’ electrical goods in circulation for longer. However, we must go further in encouraging circular activity by including the repair and reuse of electrical products in the EU takeback target and not solely end-of-life recycling targets."
“The key aim of this full-time course is to address the growing need for the maintenance, repair and recycling of white goods,” said Elizabeth O’Reilly, Head of Membership and Circular Economy Lead at WEEE Ireland.
“To create a truly circular economy where products are kept in use for longer, we need skilled technicians. The longer we can extend the life of appliances and keep resources in circulation, the more we can reduce waste.
In 2020, WEEE Ireland recycled over 470,000 white goods appliances – but no Irish training programme for the next generation of repair technicians has been available for a decade.
“The White Goods Field Service Technician course will open up a new and rewarding career for women and men who have an interest in prolonging the life-cycle of our white goods in the interest of sustainability, reduced waste and environmental wellbeing,” said Ian Collins Chairperson of the White Goods Association and Commercial Director of Beko.
“We hope to educate a new generation of skilled repair engineers and keep perfectly repairable electrical appliances in use for longer.”
“LMETB is proud to partner in the delivery of the first training programme of this kind in our Fab Labs location in Dunshaughlin. This pioneering sustainability initiative in partnership with leading manufacturers will train and equip trainees to pursue quality employment and professional careers in the maintenance, repair, and reuse of white goods”, said Martin O’Brien, CE Louth Meath Education and Training Board.
The Circular Economy Skills Initiative course is free of charge and those interested in participating can apply at: https://fit.ie/circular-economy-skills-initiative/. Full driving licence is required by the completion of training.
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