South West College Essential Skills learners, Elizabeth O’Neill from Enniskillen and Bernard Green from Omagh have been awarded the County Fermanagh and County Tyrone (respectively) 2015 Essential Skills Learner of the Year award, at the annual Essential Skills Awards ceremony, which took place at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast.
Congratulating all the winners Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry said: “It is a great pleasure to attend the Essential Skills awards ceremony each year, where I get to share in the success of today's winners who serve as an inspiration to anyone wishing to improve their literacy, numeracy and ICT skills. Essential Skills can be the key to opening up new opportunities, whether at work or in everyday life.
“To date over 163,500 adults in Northern Ireland have achieved nearly 250,000 qualifications. These people have demonstrated their desire to get ahead, overcome barriers, achieve more and obtain recognised qualifications. Not only are these skills vital for economic growth but also benefit personal progression and help to enhance the workplace.
“My Department’s free Essential Skills classes which are delivered by local Further Education colleges and training organisations, offer a second chance for people to fulfil their potential with a suite of qualifications in literacy, numeracy and ICT. I would encourage potential learners to take the opportunity to enrol on one or more of the Essential Skills courses, learn new skills or brush up on existing ones and reap all the benefits learning can provide.”
Elizabeth was born with congenital cataracts and glaucoma and as a result struggled to engage in learning at school. Overcoming this Elizabeth has achieved Essential Skills Communication Level 2, IT/ECDL/Microsoft specialist subjects and also produced an exceptional literacy portfolio. Her tutor, Joan Major nominated Elizabeth for the award.
Encouraging learners to grasp the opportunities associated with an Essential Skills qualification, Elizabeth said: “As a result of Essential Skills, not only have my English language skills improved but also I have been enabled to help other visually impaired people, and full sighted people to understand, see and take action to address the needs of visually impaired people.
“I want to encourage others to undertake Essential Skills and experience the gift of life, and to discover their own talents and skills.”
Bernard has achieved Essential Skills – ICT Level 1, previously undertaking the Introduction to Computers which has been a tremendous achievement for him having previously little computer experience. He rose to the challenge successfully completing ICT Level 1, and is now studying his ICT Level 2. His tutor Marie O’Kane nominated Bernard for the award.
Encouraging learners to grasp the opportunities associated with an Essential Skills qualification, Bernard said:
“It’s 50 years since I left school and I know I have a lot to learn with computers, but I am happy with my progress so far and have gained much from my experience. Not only have I made new friends, my tutors are excellent. I am planning to take a course in English or Maths or both when I finish this course, now I have started learning again.”
Fellow South West College Essential Skills leaners, Christine Morgan, Martin McGrath and Stephanie Corrigan were also highly commended at the awards ceremony.
This is the eighth year of the Essential Skills Awards which are designed to recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement in literacy, numeracy and ICT.