Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked John Harding from ESB to give some advice for people considering this job:

John Harding

Mechanical Engineer


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John Harding
To be an engineer, a person must firstly have a degree. Having an interest in what you are working at is always half the battle. Being technically minded is also a great benefit.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Career Skills Competition

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National Careers Skills Competition 2018

Thanks to McDonald's (kind sponsors of our great prizes!) we are able to offer a simple competition that makes your work experience work for you.
The competition is exclusive to:

  • Second Level schools running Transition Year or one of the Leaving Cert programmes (Established, Vocational or Applied).
  • Participating Further Education Colleges

We are giving away superb prizes for the top three entries in each of three categories as follows:

  • Best Senior Cycle Entries - from TY / Leaving Cert
  • Best entries 'As Gaeilge' - from TY / Leaving Cert
  • Best FET entries - Adult and Further Education programme participants undertaking a work placement module.

What's the Competition?
There are three distinct categories in the competition for TY and Leaving Cert (available in both Irish and English), and for FET. Each version has been optimised to work best for that student group. The sections of the competition are tailored based on the following elements:

The National Career Skills Competition asks you to investigate closely one person that you get to work alongside during your time on work placement.

You are asked to describe the job role, to find out what education is required to enter that job role, to notice some of the skills required to do the job well, and most importantly, to tell us what skills you observed and developed during your time on work placement. In other words, you need to complete a Career Investigation.

Because it is not always possible get a work placement in the career area or occupation of interest to you, you may either complete the Career Investigation based on the actual placement that you are in, or you may gather the necessary information by researching the career or occupation that does interest you.

When you do a work placement, you get a chance to see and meet the people whose work and efforts contribute to the success of a company or organisation. You get to see what their work is like, and to think about whether you might like to do something similar someday. Love it or hate it, you will certainly know more after spending time observing, helping-out, or even contributing to the tasks and activities of a workplace. Your work experience will provide you with new experiences and challenges. Each day will bring something different, and there is much to be learned.

The competition asks you to tell us about your experience by providing an account of what you did for two days of your placement (three days for FET entrants), for example, what duties you were given, how you got on with staff or customers and so on. This part of the competition is called the Work Placement Report.

Gaining experience from your work placement is great, and is likely to help you to focus on your career path. But to get a job (even a summer job or part-time job) you will need to convince your employer that you have the necessary skills to be a good employee. Creating a Career Skills Statement will help you to focus on your employability skills by asking you to describe some of the skills you developed while on placement. Entries in the Leaving Cert category require a Career Skills Statement that shows you understand and have developed 5 career skills during your work placement and other activities.

Finally, you are asked to reflect and review your work experience in terms of your personal career direction, and application to everyday life and future career planning.

Quick overview:

  1. SKILLS: Familiarise yourself with important skills essential for success in college and work.
  2. WORK PLACEMENT: Choose a work placement in a career area you are interested in. While on work placement, look out for career skills and find out more about the career, e.g. what courses might lead to it, what subjects are relevant etc.
  3. RULES: Familiarise yourself with the rules for the competition category you are entering (there are specific rules for the different senior cycle programmes - check the details for the programme you are eligable for here)
  4. RESEARCH: Make a note of what happens during the work experience and look out for those things mentioned in the competition rules.
  5. ENTRY: Create a new document in a word processor and complete all sections required for the category you are entering (see competition rules above), or register to CarersPortal to complete the online version of the competition. 
  6. APPROVAL: Make sure you get the support of one of your teachers / coordinators, your guidance counsellor or Tutor - they need to approve the entry also.
  7. SUBMIT: Send your completed document -  online, by e-mail or by post [See Entry Details below].

Entry Date & Address
The final entry date for the 2018 competition is  23rd March 2018.

The address to send postal entries is:

National CareerSkills Competition,
7 Richview Park,
Dublin 14.

Great Prizes!