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The Heavy Vehicle Mechanics Apprenticeship at TU Dublin

CV Workshop Magazine, out now, dropped in to TU Dublin School of Transport Engineering Planning and Environment to find out about the Heavy vehicle Mechanics Apprenticeship.

The School of Transport Engineering, Environment and Planning at Technological University Dublin have a long tradition in the delivery of craft apprenticeships. One of these apprenticeships is Heavy Vehicle Mechanics (HVM), which is delivered on behalf of SOLAS. The structure of craft apprenticeships is that an individual who wishes to undertake an apprenticeship seeks an employer who registers them with SOLAS.

The apprentice will complete seven phases of the apprenticeship over a four year period. Phases 1, 3, 5 and 7 involve on-the-job training with the employer. Phase 2 normally takes place in an ETB or an Institute of Technology and phases 4 and 6 are undertaken in an Institute of Technology or TU Dublin. HVM is an attractive career with and with a skills shortage in this area, demand for mechanics is increasing and this offers qualified mechanics various career opportunities.

Furthermore, as HVM and fleet maintenance is a fundamental part of transport / logistics operations, there is also ample opportunities for HVM to upskill and progress through lifelong learning into these related fields. This is evident with a number of mechanics who pursued further education in TU Dublin (previously DIT) and are now fulfilling management roles within various transport and logistics companies.

The apprentices for HVM vary greatly throughout the industry from the small garage to large fleet operators and semi-state companies. One of the larger employers of HVM apprentices is Dublin Bus with a diverse fleet of around 900 buses.

Stephen Brannigan (Dublin Bus Apprentice 2019) is currently attending TU Dublin and will be completing his phase 6 in early March, “in last 8 weeks we have covered the new version 4 syllabus which entails new cutting edge heavy vehicle technology and associated systems, this has been of great benefit in terms of understanding and maintaining these vehicle systems for operational and legislative reasons”.

It is government policy with craft apprenticeships that before implementation, the respective syllabus be approved by SOLAS and validated by QQI. A revised syllabus for Heavy Vehicle Mechanics was validated in 2016. The new syllabus reflects the ever-changing technology associated with HVM and consists of various electronically controlled vehicle systems and diagnostics. These include engine / fuel (common rail), EPS transmission systems, EBS (brakes) and electronically controlled steering, suspension and emission control systems. These areas are covered in an 11 or 10 week block in phase 4 and phase 6 while they attend TU Dublin. The apprentices are then competently assessed in these areas through practical assessments and theoretical exams. There are also new subjects in the new syllabus such as communications and team leadership to assist the apprentice with customer relations and support activities in their employment as a heavy vehicle mechanic. This is reinforced by online and classroom based portfolio assessment.

The implementation of the new syllabus has brought investment in new equipment in a dedicated Heavy Vehicle Mechanics workshop in Beresford Street in TU Dublin. This investment by the Higher Education Authority is valued at €500,000. This investment is welcome in light of fast-paced developments in heavy vehicle technology.

This investment has allowed the discipline of HVM to purchase new heavy goods vehicles and test rigs with suitable diagnostic equipment. One supplier who won the tendering process was Westward Scania (Ireland) who has supplied TU Dublin with a new Scania truck (R410) and Bus chassis with running gear to allow easy access to systems and components.

According to Peter O’Connor (Technical Trainer with Scania trucks) “Westward Scania are delighted to supply the TU Dublin with the latest vehicles in terms of technical specifications. We are also delighted to support the staff and students through upskilling on the new equipment, vehicles and diagnostic systems and look forward to building up a good working relationship in the future of apprentice training”.

The future is positive for the heavy vehicle mechanics apprenticeship at TU Dublin. There has been an increase in the number of apprentices over the past five years. Indications also predict that the number of apprentices will hold over the short to medium term.