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Empowering apprenticeships in Ireland: Mercury’s vision for the future

Conor Gray’s journey at Mercury began as an apprentice electrician 35 years ago, and over the years he has risen to become our Apprenticeship Development Manager. Conor recently shared Mercury’s vision for empowering the future of apprenticeships with the Irish Examiner, underscoring our commitment to nurturing young talent and fostering their development.

A growing opportunity

Conor Gray is well-versed in recruiting and developing apprentices, making him uniquely positioned to observe the evolving apprenticeship landscape in Ireland. According to Conor, „The growth in apprenticeships in Ireland is fantastic. From an employer’s perspective, I think that many young people may not fully realise the career prospects that apprenticeships offer, but the opportunities are substantial.“

He emphasises that a significant portion of Mercury’s senior management consists of individuals who began as tradespeople—a pattern mirrored in other top construction companies. Conor underscores, „Most of our senior leadership didn’t come from college or corporate backgrounds; they climbed the ranks. It’s crucial for young people to understand this.“

Conor Gray, Mercury's Apprenticeship Development Manager.
Conor Gray, Mercury’s Apprenticeship Development Manager.

A gap in the market

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercury identified a need for enhanced apprenticeship training. Conor explains, „Before COVID, we had about 150 apprentices working with us, and we were preparing to recruit more for three or four major projects on the horizon. Recognising the importance of providing additional training, we established our own training centre in Ballycoolin, Blanchardstown, Dublin.“

Mercury’s approach is grounded in our belief that apprentices learn best while on the job. Conor details our process: „We bring apprentices to our training centre before they begin the off-the-job phases at Solas. Here, we provide supplementary training to ensure they are thoroughly prepared.“

A commitment to excellence

For the four years that apprentices are under contract with Mercury, the company is dedicated to supporting their journey towards achieving the QQI Level 6 qualification—the National Craft Certificate. Conor affirms, „We all work diligently to ensure that, upon completing their training, apprentices receive their National Craft Certificate.“

A collaborative approach

Conor is an active member of the National Apprenticeship Alliance (NAA), representing apprenticeship stakeholders and fostering collaboration among education providers, learners, industry partners, and trade unions. He stresses the importance of industry and business engagement in the NAA, enabling swift adoption of innovations.

According to Conor, „It’s crucial that industry has a say in the NAA. We can identify trends faster, and if there is innovation in various fields, such as hairdressing, cooking, or farriery, industry can introduce these innovations to the NAA, benefiting everyone. With unions also part of the alliance, success is in everyone’s best interest, from an Irish, industry, and business perspective. Every stakeholder has a role to play, promising higher standards for all.“


At Mercury, we believe that to achieve incredible things you must invest in your people. We recruit and train staff from apprentices to qualified engineers, a policy that has kept many of them with Mercury since the company’s earliest days.

Mercury is one of the largest employers of mechanical and electrical apprentices in Ireland. Upon successful completion of the apprenticeship, apprentices are awarded a Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) National Craft Certificate. This certificate has national and international recognition and is a compulsory requirement for craftsperson status.

An apprenticeship with Mercury is more than you think. Become part of a global business where you will experience non-stop learning, training, and variety in a range of exciting sectors, including Enterprise & Hyperscale data centres, Advanced Technology, Pharma, Live Environment & Fire Protection.


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