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 Elaine McGarrigle from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:

Elaine McGarrigle

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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Elaine McGarrigle

The most important skill that a person in my position can have is communication.

One needs to be able to communicate effectively with people of all levels in order to do a days work. I think that this is the most important quality, to be able to fit in well with people, everyone from the operators to the senior management, one needs to be able to read them and how best to communicate with them.

An interest in basic engineering and in the heavy machine industry.

It is important to realise that working as a mechanical engineer in Irish Cement does not generally involve sitting at your desk all day. It involves alot of hands on, on-site work so a person needs to be prepared to get their hands dirty.

Another quality that is important is to be willing to learn. Even after a number of years in college, one needs to be eager to learn the ins and outs of a new environment; how cement is made, what equipment is involved, what generally goes wrong and how it is fixed.

Everyone will help and teach you but you need to open your mind and be prepared to take it all in.

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Naturalist
Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalists interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results, and prefer action to talking and discussing.
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VTOS Schemes

Education and Training Boards (ETBs) replaced Vocational Educational Committees (VECs) and are run by the Department of Education and Skills. 

Courses must be full time and can take as long as two years and lead to qualifications such as Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate and Further Education and Training Awards Council (QQI).

VTOS aims to give unemployed people education and training opportunities that will help them find a job, and to prepare people to go to paid employment or to further educational opportunities leading to paid employment.

If you are registered as unemployed, you will not have to 'sign on' at your local Social Welfare Office while on a VTOS course.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to a small lunch allowance and a travel allowance depending on how far you have to travel to the VTOS centre. You may also get some childcare support. The VTOS allowance is not means-tested, so you may work without it affecting your payment. Students on VTOS usually receive free books and materials at the start of their course. VTOS payments are made for a maximum of 2 years.

You can qualify for VTOS if you are:

  • aged at least 21
  • In receipt of any the following payments:

-Jobseekers Allowance/Benefit
-One-Parent Family Payment
-Disability Allowance
-Illness Benefit
-Invalidity Pension
-Blind Pension
-Deserted Wife's Allowance
-Deserted Wife's Benefit
-Widow's or Widowers Non and Contributory Pensions
-Prisoners Wife's Allowance

  • have not been engaged in paid employment for at least 6 months before you start the course.

Note: recipients of Illness Benefit must get permission from the Department to start a VTOS course.

If you are getting an unemployment payment and you are getting an increase for your spouse or partner, they may also participate in VTOS.

For further information on the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme VTOS, contact your local education and training board

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