Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry has visited South West College in Omagh where he met a number of Higher Level Apprentices.
The Minister launched the Northern Ireland Apprenticeships Strategy ‘Securing our Success’ in June 2014 and the Department has been working in conjunction with Further Education Colleges, Universities and employers in Northern Ireland to develop a range of Higher Level Apprenticeship pilots across Northern Ireland.
Speaking during the visit Minister Farry said: “I am delighted to visit South West College in Omagh and see firsthand the Higher Level Apprentices at their place of education. South West College is readily equipped to deliver education that supports industry, meets employers needs and prepares the Higher Level Apprentices for real jobs with great career prospects.
“The skills landscape is changing and I am committed to growing and developing apprenticeship provision in Northern Ireland, creating gold standard provision that will benefit both young people and our economy. Higher level apprenticeships are an excellent way to gain the skills needed by employers through studying for higher level qualifications whilst earning.
“I would like to thank the local employers currently involved in the Higher Level Apprenticeships pilots for supporting the implementation of the new Strategy. I am confident that their involvement will be a positive one and this will encourage other employers to get involved in the future”.
A Higher Level Apprenticeship is an apprenticeship with a targeted qualification between Level 4 (HNC equivalent) to Level 8 (PhD equivalent). A Higher Level Apprenticeship develops professional and technical skills by gaining a recognised higher qualifications while in paid employment. From this autumn, up to 450 Higher Level Apprenticeship opportunities will be available in Northern Ireland across a wide range of occupational areas including Sustainable Construction, Engineering and Accounting – all of which are available at South West College.
Malachy McAleer, South West College Director, said; “The College is delighted to endorse the Ministers initiative to offer high-end skills development opportunities to companies in the South West region and beyond. This initiative will provide a major boost for industry and will change the way education is delivered to meet urgent priority skills needs for employers. At South West College we want to deliver education that supports industry, satisfies employers and prepares students for real jobs with great career prospects”.
Lauren Eccles, employed at Woodvale Construction and a Higher Level Apprenticeship in Sustainable Construction (with BIM) student said; “With the support of my employers, Woodvale Construction, I have been able to embark on a significantly different career path within the company. My background and former role with Woodvale was in general office administration, but because of family involvement, I have always had an ambition to work directly in construction. Coming on the HLA Programme at South West College has given me the opportunity to realize my ambition, whilst still having the job security of working for Woodvale.”
Further information on Higher Level Apprenticeships is available at: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/higher-level-apprenticeships
Front Row: Conor McMenamin, Higher Level Apprentice in Sustainable Construction (with BIM) employed by Lowry Bros Ltd, Minister for Employment and Learning Stephen Farry, Mairead McDermott (Higher Level Apprentice in Sustainable Construction (with BIM) employed by Qmac Construction Ltd), and Lauren Eccles, Higher Level Apprentice in Sustainable Construction (with BIM) employed by Woodvale Construction Ltd.
Back Row: Aishling McCallum, McCallum Construction Ltd, William Young, South West College Connected Project Officer, Robert Ewing, Woodvale Construction, Malachy McAleer, South West College Director, Ian Lowry (Lowry Bros Ltd), John Moss, South West College Lecturer, Peter Quinn (Qmac Construction Ltd)