Dr Kevin Sludds with students who received their Further Education and Training certificates on completion of their courses
Students at the Magnet Training Centre celebrated their graduation from the centres wide and varied courses on Friday 25th May.
There is currently an air of excitement at the training centre which provides youth training workshops to enable early school leavers to develop skills in a variety of areas such as woodwork, metalwork, sewing, gardening, hairdressing, and computers.
Dr. Kevin Sludds
New manager Kevin Sludds has brought with him a new lease of life to the training centre which he thinks has been seen as the “poor cousin” of other educational facilities in the broad education and training field in years gone by.
Speaking to The Dundalk Democrat about the graduation day and certification ceremonies, Mr. Sludds said: “The learners we have here don’t get a lot of recognition. That’s why I think it's important to have this graduation day. It’s a way of celebrating all of their hard work and achievements over the last few months.
"It was a fantastic day. Our students really enjoyed the attention and the recognition and some are already considering going on to the next level with their courses."
He added: “The graduation day was also a way of saying well done to all of our staff who have worked so hard – some for the last 30 years. It was also a day to draw attention to their hard work.
"One of my concerns is that training centres like ours were seen in the past as the poor cousins of other educational institutions and can be forgotten, but I think that attitude is changing gradually. Well, hopefully.”
Kevin Sludds, who started his position at the Magnet in February, hails from the inner city Dublin suburb of Stoneybatter. He can directly relate to the young adults he teaches who may have fallen through the cracks of the Irish educational system - when he was a teenager, he became homeless for a period, after he left the family home and had nowhere to go.
The Dublin man then used education to turn his life around. He is now a professional ethicist with 20 years of experience of teaching, consulting and training. He has worked across Europe, Africa and India has also published a number of books and has been the recipient of two national poetry awards.
He also holds a degree in philosophy and English and has post-graduate degrees in philosophy. Sludds worked in a number of academic posts at educational institutes including a position as Head of the Department of General Studies at Baze University in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria and at Trinity College Dublin and Sligo IT, before he decided to come to Dundalk to work with disadvantaged young adults in February of this year.
And now he is keen to pass on his passion and love for learning to the students at the Magnet Training centre.
Mr. Sludds said: “A lot of the youths we work with would come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many have dropped out of school early and might carry a negative attitude towards education. I want to teach them that learning can be fun and rewarding.
Dr Kevin Sludds Manager of the Dundalk Community Training centre with Students who received their Further Education and Training certificates after completing their courses include: Nicola Byrne, Rachel Morrisey, Zoe Crossley, Aleksandra Ninkovic, Sinead Hutchinson, Lauren Kerr, Aislinn McDonald and Rachel Goodram.
“For me, it’s very important to instill that lifelong love for education in these students and encourage them to be critical, independent thinkers. I came from a disadvantaged background myself.
“I was homeless as a teenager, so I can relate to these young people. My goal is to keep our students coming back to education, throughout their lives and take the pomposity out of education.”
“In my own personal experience, I went back to education and did a PHD. I look at myself and think, if I can do this, there is no reason why the students at our training centre can’t.
“If our students can learn to enjoy learning, I think they will enjoy their lives more.”
And speaking of the latest round of students who worked hard for their certifications which they were presented with last Friday, the Magnet Training Centre manager added:
“They’re a credit to their families, a credit to their communities and most importantly, they’re a credit to themselves. They’re just terrific.”
If you are an early school leaver aged between 16 and 24 years old and would like to inquire about a practical training course at the Magnet Training Centre, you can call onto the centre on Mulholland Avenue in Dundalk.
The centre has an ongoing intake policy throughout the year.
You can also phone the centre on 042 93 38340.