South West College (SWC) Dungannon and 24 employers teamed up to pitch opportunities in the world of engineering to young people at a recent unique careers event.
The ‘Get Engineering’ initiative is designed to give those thinking about their future careers and options a flavour of the prospects and potential for progression within the booming local industry.
In recent years, County Tyrone has earned a global reputation as a hotbed for excellence and innovation in the design and manufacture of solutions and positioned a cluster of mid-Ulster engineering firms among the world’s elite providers of materials handling equipment.
On officially opening the Get Engineering Careers Fair, Mr Pat O’Neill, founder of Powerscreen and ambassador for Tyrone engineering said:
“Nowhere else in Ireland or in any other EU country could a similar exhibition of locally produced crushing, screening and associated construction companies be mounted because our local manufacturers are situated in the ‘Silicon Valley’ of crushing and screening.
“In this area there is an estimated 250 engineering companies, including the three world leaders in mobile crushing and screening systems, and these companies produce over 75% of world output. This dominant position is a result of your unique designs and your very high quality product and marketing skills.
“You have the potential to double your output and employment potential within ten years but there is only one factor that could keep this from happening and this is a shortage of skilled people. It would be a tragedy of our own making if this were to happen.”
Mr O’Neill continued to urge teachers in schools of all abilities and parents to introduce their young people to the suite of education and training courses available at SWC, many of which are accredited by Ulster University and the endless opportunities that a career in engineering can offer.
Ciaran McManus, Deputy Head of Training at SWC, said:
“Engineering is a major sector of employment in the south west region and the growth of this sector is hugely important for the future development of the local economy. South West College is committed to working in partnership with local employers to attract, develop and nurture new talent for various areas of engineering, with excellent industry-approved education and training programmes.
“On behalf of SWC I would like to thank all employers who participated in the Get Engineering Careers Fair. Their energy and buzz created a huge buzz in the college over the two day event. We look forward to working in partnership with local companies to promote the local engineering sector through the exciting Get Engineering initiative.”
The careers event hosted exhibitions from 24 local employers, many of whom develop innovative products for the global market and an exciting range of live demonstrations and activities, including 3D scanning, a CNC plasma, rapid prototyping and a virtual welding training simulator. A number of employers and apprentices also hosted careers talks to share insights into the career and training opportunities for design engineers, technical service engineers, welders/fabricators, CNC operators and other engineering business support roles. Kids with a curious mind and competitive spirit also got a taste for engineering with an exciting and challenging ‘Craft a Raft’ activity, hosted by the SWC STEM Centre.
In highlighting the multiple routes into engineering, Mr McManus added that a career in engineering offers both choice and variety with work opportunities, as engineering spans the breadth of so many different sectors. He added:
“South West College offers skills, technician (GOLD) and higher level apprenticeships in engineering for school leavers, those wishing to up-skill and those seeking to get back into employment. These options allow participants to reap the benefits of on-the-job training and earn while they learn. Participation rates on Training for Success, ApprenticeshipsNI programmes in Engineering at SWC are at an all-time high, which reflects the dynamic growth of the local engineering sector.
“Following a further education course may be an option for those completing GCSEs and wishing to move into the world of work and SWC also offers an impressive suite of higher education engineering options for those wishing to study at foundation degree and degree level.”