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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Manufacturing Academy on course to attract new recruits for local companies in Ballymena

L-R Ken Nelson (Chair Northern Regional College), Ian Paisley MP, Graham Whitehurst (Chair Manufacturing Task Force), Christine Brown (Vice Principal Teaching and Learning Northern Regional College) and students attending the course.

Students from the Ballymena area are on course to complete the five-week ‘Manufacturing Academy’ delivered by Northern Regional College at the Farm Lodge Campus, Ballymena, which will not only boost their skills but help secure potential employment with local manufacturing companies.

The Academy was established in Ballymena in 2021 in response to the demand from companies in the manufacturing sector for employees with the appropriate skills.

Funded by The Gallaher Trust and with support from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Manufacturing Task Force (MTF) and the Northern Regional College, the Academy, now in its second year, is helping bolster the manufacturing industry and is encouraging individuals to consider manufacturing as a promising career choice.

Ian Paisley MP, Chair of the Gallaher Trust, said:

“The Gallaher Trust is delighted to see this second cohort of some thirteen students attend the Manufacturing Academy. The funding that the Trust provides is adding real value to this sector and delivering on our mission of creating jobs and developing skills for adults with the wider Ballymena area.

“To see these students grow and learn new skills is remarkable as they simultaneously benefit from a weekly training, travel and food allowance. I look forward to seeing them complete the course and have the opportunity to apply for a job with one of the local manufacturing companies with the potential to gainemployment.”

Graham Whitehurst MBE, Chair of the Task Force, said:

“We have been working proactively with local employers and in partnership with the College to develop this manufacturing training programme which meets industry requirements and provides employers access to a growing pool of skilled ‘work-ready’ employees. Participants are paid to improve their employability and career prospects, and through initiatives such as the Manufacturing Academy, the MTFis helping secure the future growth of manufacturing in Ballymena.”

Alan Reid, Innovation Manager at Northern Regional College, added:

“The programme provides participants with knowledge on health and safety, inspection and quality assurance, working to set specifications, use of tools and machinery and computer-controlled equipment,lean and continuous improvement techniques.

“It is not all college-based learning as the programme includes guest speakers and company visits, a work-based project and a focus on skills such as communication, team working, interview skills and CV building to help secure employment.”  

Michele Graham - a current participant who previously worked in the healthcare sector – said:

“The five-week course is providing me with knowledge of an industry sector that I would never have previously considered as a career path. I’ve enjoyed learning about the different areas of manufacturing, especially machining and robotics and I look forward to applying for the positions available with the local manufacturing companies involved and potentially securing a new job before Christmas.”

Companies involved in the programme include Moy Park, JB Door Systems, Moore Concrete, Apeer Doors, Norbev, Stephens Catering, Quad-X, Garage Door Systems, GES, Clarke and Quinn Hearse and Limousine.

Qualifications are not a requirement to take part in the Manufacturing Academy.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Manufacturing Academy or future Academies in the Mid and East Antrim area, as well as opportunities available for young people through a recent collaboration with Princes Trust with the ‘Get into Manufacturing’ programme which recently led to an employment opportunity with Garage Door Systems in Ballymena.

To find out more about the Manufacturing Task Force, visit or email


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