Minister congratulates first ever female winner of Apprentice of the Year

Appentice engineer at work

by HRHQ Editorial Team

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has congratulated the first ever female winner of the Apprentice of the Year.


Hazel Johnston, a Manufacturing Engineering apprentice with DePuy Synthes, won the award at the Mansion House on thursday last.

Hazel is an apprentice from Cork and studies at the Cork Education and Training Board’s Bishopstown campus.

Minister Harris said “I want to warmly congratulate all the nominees and award winners and thank them for all their hard work and commitment to their apprenticeship.

“I especially want to congratulate Hazel on her fantastic achievement. As a Department, we are working hard to increase the number of females taking up apprenticeships and, while it is heartening to see the numbers increase every year, we know much more needs to be done.

“Hazel, and the many other female apprentices pursuing their dream careers across Ireland, should act as an inspiration to others considering the path they want to take in life.”

More than 220 apprentice award nominees attended the event, with 14 finalists from eight different industry categories collecting awards.

Dr Mary-Liz Trant, Director of the National Apprenticeship Office, said:

“We were delighted to celebrate with the nominees this year, the award winners and the overall 2023 national ‘Apprentice of the Year’ Hazel Johnston, our first-ever female Apprentice Of The Year.

“Apprentices are transforming the landscape of Ireland’s skilled workforce, bringing exceptional diversity, creativity and innovation into their industry and workplace.”

“The ‘Apprentice of the Year’ awards not only celebrate the apprentices nominated but also the power and impact of apprenticeship as a mode of learning and career development.

“The ongoing focus on continuous improvement within the apprenticeship system enables businesses to share their knowledge and expertise with upcoming talented apprentices of all ages and backgrounds.”

As part of Budget 2024, an additional core €67 million investment will help to grow the apprenticeship system, and in particular will allow craft apprenticeship to move from providing 13,000 places in 2022 to over 16,000 places in 2024, and reduce the length of time an apprentice waits for training