GRETB Training Centre marks its 50th anniversary in 2019. It has been at the heart of training apprentices and trainees in the West of Ireland since 1969.
The Centre in Mervue, Galway was officially opened on November 10th, 1969 by Joe Brennan, T.D., Minister for Labour as the AnCO (An Chomhairle Oiliúna) Training Centre Galway. It initially opened with 28 staff.
The AnCO Training Centre provided people in the West of Ireland with new opportunities, such as Apprenticeships, specific work skills and career change prospects.
AnCO courses were between 15 and 26 weeks and were designed to meet industry needs with many trainees going to employment after completing training. In the first 10 years of operations the Centre had trained 7,000 people – trainees and apprentices.
In 1988, AnCO amalgamated with National Manpower Services and the Youth Employment Agency to become FÁS (An Foras Áiseanna Saothair). The Training Centre became the FÁS Training Centre.
The 1980s were a tough time economically for Ireland with high unemployment and mass emigration. In 1985 unemployment was over 17%, however this was offset by mass emigration, mainly to the UK and the USA.
For people who remained in Ireland, struggling to find employment, the role of the FÁS Training Centre played a pivotal role offering upskilling and reskilling. New programmes and Apprenticeships were developed to match the changing nature of the economy, industry and business in Galway and the region.
FÁS was very much involved with the local community over the years and contributed regularly to the Tops of the Town variety and talent shows where Community groups and businesses competed in local and national finals. The Training Centre also provided the expertise in projects like the Waterwheel at Mill St and the Quincentennial time capsule buried in Salthill.
Apprentices received training to the highest level and were encouraged to enter National Skills competitions which are a unique showcase of trades in a competitive setting. Over the years, apprentices from the Training Centre have been successful at National, European and World levels, culminating with two apprentices winning World Skills gold medals.
The Training Centre is very aware of the changing needs of employers and, in 2013, Irelands first dedicated cleanroom operator training facility was opened to provide trained operators and product builders for the medical companies in Galway and the West.
In 2014 FÁS and the VECs (Vocational Education Committees) amalgamated and the Training Centre became the GRETB (Galway Roscommon Education & Training Board) Training Centre.
Current manager of the training centre – Ken Farragher believes the training centre has been a huge asset to the people of the west. It has provided training locally for trades men and women, while it has also provided up skilling courses for those in unemployment to allow them return to the workforce.
“The flexibility and customer focus of the staff of the GRETB training centre, has allowed the training centre move to new methods of training such as on-line training or training in the workplace for those in employment,” explained Ken.
“GRETB can respond rapidly to the needs of the economy by offering upskilling to those in the work place at their place of work, opening our centre at weekends & evening or training on line, while we now offer apprenticeships in auctioneering, manufacturing, accounting, logistics etc. so there are plenty of training options for those in employment, unemployed or people seeking a new career,” he added.
Since 2016, new apprenticeships in areas such as Finance, Manufacturing Technology, Logistics and Hospitality have been developed and rolled out, there are in addition to traditional craft apprenticeships in the areas of Construction, Electrical and Motor.
Fifty years later. GRETB Training Centre continues to provide a diverse range of training delivery options including Full Time Day, Evening, Saturday and Blended-Learning Opportunities.