Young Limerick woman takes finalist prize at Apprentice of the Year awards

Minister Harris presenting the apprenticeship award to Mairide Bennis.

A YOUNG County Limerick woman has won a top finalist prize at the first-ever independently judged Apprentice of the Year Awards, overseen by the National Apprenticeship Office.

Mairide Bennis from Castletown is a Manufacturing Engineering apprentice with Design Pro Automation in Rathkeale and received a finalist’s award in recognition of the outstanding contributions she has made to her workplace.

Apprentices were nominated by their employers or educational partners, and judged on four  categories – leadership, teamwork, creativity, and problem-solving.

Mairide said that she decided to opt for an apprenticeship because she could get invaluable industry experience and earn a degree from a Technical University with no student debt.

“This was a ‘no brainer’ for me. There is such a broad range of apprenticeships available today that go far beyond the traditional trade courses,” she explained.

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Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris congratulated Mairide on her finalist’s award, and paid tribute to the 11 other finalists who were selected out of 187 nominees from every county in Ireland.

“Apprenticeship is a vital lever for the continued economic prosperity of this country – it not only unlocks the skills and expertise necessary for leading Irish businesses, but also will help us to achieve critical aims in the Programme for Government, including on housing.

“I would encourage anyone to consider an apprenticeship. This is third-level education and you can earn as you learn. It is time to get involved and help us build the next generation of apprentices,” Minister Harris added.

National Apprenticeship Office Director Dr Mary-Liz Trant said it was clear that the conversation around apprenticeship is changing.

“Apprenticeship is a pathway into a great career, and a choice that both apprentices and businesses can be very proud of taking,” she added.

Mairide at work in DesignPro Automation.