It’s not every day you get handed the keys to a brand new Audi TT and told to do with it as you please. But that’s exactly what happened when lecturers at Technological University Dublin met Volkswagen Group Ireland’s Oisin Daly at their City Campus in Dublin city centre recently. Daly, who works for Volkswagen Group Aftersales, handed over the gleaming white sports car to staff based at the university’s Vehicle Repair Workshop as part of its ongoing commitment to motor trade apprenticeships. The new acquisition, a former training car, is the “icing on the cake” following an extensive refurbishment of the facility, according to Joe Clarke, Head of Transport Technologies at TU Dublin.
“This vehicle is not only highly desirable and fully spec’d, it has a multi-material body that meets the criteria of our new curriculum,” he says “We are in the process of creating a centre of excellence, not just for now but for the future of the industry and all the exciting technology that is coming down the line. To have a leading brand like the Volkswagen Group on board is a massive endorsement of the work we are doing here.”
Now it third generation, the curvaceous Audi TT feels every bit as fresh and exciting as it did when the original was launched back in 1998. Technicians and apprentices who attend TU Dublin’s workshop will now be able to get up close and personal with the luxury sports car to see exactly what makes it tick.
Enda Breslin, Assistant Lecturer at TU Dublin, says the desirable vehicle will help the university attract new blood. “Getting a car like this creates a buzz within the industry and gets people talking about the university,” he says “We want to encourage people to come in and see there’s a lot more scope to the apprentice scheme than they might believe. This is a world class facility that will provide the manpower and equipment needed to train a highly skilled workforce for generations to come.”
Established in 1981, the workshop lies behind an unimposing shop front on Beresford Street in Smithfield, Dublin 7. In January 2019, the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) became Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) following a merger between DIT, Blanchardstown IT and Tallaght IT to form Ireland’s first Technological University. It also became the subject of an equipment recapitalisation project that enabled a full refit and upgrade of facilities required to support the delivery of the revised apprenticeship curriculum. Now, as the only public sector provider of vehicle body repair apprenticeships in the country, it plays a vital role within the Irish motor trade.
Lecturer Frank O’Neill says ensuring apprentices get access to the latest technology and vehicles safeguards the future of the industry. “We have a brand new spray booth and materials analysis equipment that are the envy of any workshop in the land,” he says “We can strip cars back to the chassis and show them how to test the strength of the steel joints. It’s about giving them hands-on experience and the knowledge to do the job to the best of their ability.”
Apprentices who attend the workshop are in the middle of a four-year training programme run by industry body SOLAS. Jason Phillips, Assistant Lecturer in Vehicle Body Repair, became an apprentice panel beater after completing his Leaving Cert 31 years ago. He insists today’s technology is light years ahead of the techniques used when he was learning the trade.
“Back in my day we used to rub down cars by hand with cold buckets of water but now everything involves sophisticated machines and the technology is constantly changing,” he says “Cars are made from high strength steel, boron steels and carbon fibre. We give students a better understanding of how cars are put together and the correct procedures to fix them. The apprentices who come to us have usually reached a certain level of experience so it’s about ironing out the kinks”
Oisin Daly, Volkswagen Group Paint and Body Business Development Specialist, says supplying training cars to TU Dublin is just the latest in a series of ongoing commitments to apprenticeships by the Group. “Apprentices have been the lifeblood of the motor industry for over a century,” he says “By investing in leading facilities like this, we all benefit down the line with a highly skilled, motivated workforce and state-of-the art facilities.”