Women are often reluctant to take up careers as motor technicians

On The Last Word, we've previously covered the difficulties in enticing more women to take up apprenticeships.

One company that is currently seeking more female apprentices is Nissan.

Ken Ward, Technical and Training Manager at Nissan Ireland, spoke to us about the requirements for undertaking their motor technician apprenticeships, which last four years and combine hands-on training and theory.

"Where we would have approximately 70 apprentices in our network, we take on approximately 10 to 15, maybe 20, apprentices every year and enroll them in our apprentice academy."

"We would insist on a good Leaving cert, including mathematics and science, but we don't only look for school leavers. We would encourage people who maybe tried their hand at an engineering degree but decided it wasn't for them and who want a little more practical knowledge."

"The apprenticeship is mostly about mechanical ability. You'll need to be able to diagnose and repair from this, but you'll also need a level of understanding of the technology."

Of the 70 apprentices at Nissan Ireland, none are women. But this is a situation they are keen to change.

Ken explained the possible reasons why women are often reluctant to pursue this career path.

"There seems to be a misapprehension out there about the requirements to be a motor technician - that it's going to be a physical, dirty job. We're trying to change that mindset and get an understanding out there that you don't have to be a strong boy to plug in a computer. You need to have a certain level of education and ability. There's no differentiation between male and female with regard to those requirements."

"We've interviewed women for the job, and sometimes when they realise they will have to work in a predominantly male-orientated industry, it can be a little bit off-putting for them. With our apprentice academy we will have the ability to monitor and mentor all of them through their careers."

The pay starts at €200 a week and after that, Ken says, there is "no upper limit."

More details about apprenticeships can be found at www.apprenticeship.ie