South West College (SWC) had good reason to celebrate at the recent Department for Employment and Learning’s Apprentice of the Year Awards 2015.
SWC, along with Greiner Packaging in Dungannon, won the Innovation in Partnership Award and two engineering apprentices from the college were shortlisted finalists for the title of the Apprentice of the Year 2015.
SWC and Greiner Packaging's partnership was recognised for delivering the Advanced Technician Apprenticeship (GOLD) programme which has been described as the 'alternative' university experience. Working closely together they allow apprentices the opportunity to train and develop their skills through a rotational programme which allows the apprentices to find an area they are most proficient in.
SWC apprentices James Kee, an engineering apprentice at SWC Dungannon and currently employed by CDE Global in Cookstown and John Mullarkey from Lisnaskea, a mechanical engineering apprentice from the college’s Enniskillen Campus (currently employed by Blacas Ltd) were shortlisted finalists for the Apprentice of the Year Award.
Alastair Booth, Curriculum Manager for Engineering, South West College said: "We are thrilled to receive the accolade for innovation in partnership and to have been recognised for our successful efforts with Greiner Packaging to develop an innovative training programme that produces a high calibre of apprentices to the benefit of local industry. The level of support from Greiner has exceeded our expectations and we look forward to further developing this mutually beneficial relationship. I would also like to congratulate our young engineering apprentices who made it through to the finals for the Apprentice of the Year title."
Malcolm Forbes, Greiner Packaging, said: "The advanced technician apprenticeship has provided us with the opportunity to recruit intelligent individuals and through a sector specific structured apprenticeship programme in partnership with SWC we have been able to train and grow our own work force."
Congratulating the winners, Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry said: "The talent on show here today is testament to the high level of skills and aptitude that exists in Northern Ireland. I congratulate all the winners and finalists here today on their achievements.
"Apprenticeships, especially the new Higher Level Apprenticeships, offer a unique opportunity to transform the skills landscape in Northern Ireland. A number of higher level apprenticeship pilots are currently running, with 130 higher level apprentices across 46 companies. Apprenticeships provide an excellent means by which employers can obtain the specific set of skills they require, as well as being assured there are the pool of potential employees out there with strong technical and employability skills. Apprenticeships will form a key driver in growing our local economy now and in the future."
All apprentices in Northern Ireland follow a training framework developed with the relevant industry sector which includes attainment of a vocational qualification, a technical certificate and, if necessary, specified essential skills.
The Apprentice of the Year competition is open to those currently on the Department for Employment and Learning's ApprenticeshipsNI programme and showcases excellence in apprenticeship training.
ApprenticeshipsNI is part funded by the European Social Fund.