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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

New Manufacturing and Engineering Careers for the Local Community

Participants in the Manufacturing Academy

Northern Regional College have just completed a fantastic five-week Manufacturing Academy with an amazing group of students. 

This academy allowed local people from Ballymena to come together to learn new skills supported by innovative local companies to help them kick start a career in Manufacturing.   

As well as learning new technical skills, the academy also focused on CV building and interview techniques which will help the trainees secure employment after the academy has ended.    

Gordon Kane, Engineering lecturer and Curriculum Area Manager for Advanced Technologies explained that the skills training was delivered by the College’s industrial experts: 

“The Academy introduced participants to a range of generic manufacturing processes, including welding, fabrication, manual machining, CAD, CNC machining, robotics, quality control and automation. The course was focused on practical hands-on skills, company visits and guest speakers. 

“As part of the programme, students developed their knowledge in health and safety by completing a one-day CSR (Construction Site Register) course, they experienced a wide range of manufacturing skills and become familiar with lean and continuous improvement techniques.” 

He continued: “Participants were guaranteed interviews with Ballymena based Manufacturing Task Force (MTF) manufacturing companies and as well as technical training, there was also a focus on ‘softer’ skills, such as communication, team working, CV building and interview techniques to help them secure employment.”  

Pamela Steele, Northern Regional College Business Engagement Officer said the Manufacturing Academy has given a much-needed boost to the sector by encouraging individuals, regardless of their age and previous experience, to consider a career path in the manufacturing sector. 

“The Manufacturing Academy is a ‘win-win’ for everyone involved as it has helped secure the future growth of the manufacturing sector in Ballymena by giving employers access to a growing pool of skilled ‘work ready’ employees.   

"Congratulations to all the students who completed and a special mention to all the local employers who supported the academy, Moore Concrete Products Ltd , TST Group, Wrightbus, NORBEV LTD, Clarke, GES Group (Grants Electrical Services) Ltd and PCD Contracts LTD."

This programme was funded by the Gallaher Trust and supported by the Mid and East Antrim Manufacturing Task Force (MTF).    

Ian Paisley, MP Chair of The Gallaher Trust explained why they funded the Academy: 

"The Gallaher Trust was born out of the closure of the JTI/Gallaher factory and its legacy. Among the Trust's main aims are to promote job creation and upskilling and the establishment of the Manufacturing Academy was a perfect fit to making a difference, along with Northern Regional College being a delivery partner. It is great to see the difference that both the Northern Regional College and the MTF are making."

Graham Whitehurst MBE, Chair of the Manufacturing Task Force (MTF), said that the companies in the MTF are fully supportive of the Manufacturing Academy providing a progressive career path in a sector which is transitioning with the introduction of advanced technologies and practices:    

“The Manufacturing Task Force is delighted to have worked in collaboration with Northern Regional College and The Gallaher Trust to develop this innovative initiative and offer students exciting career opportunities and progression.

"We’re confident that the Manufacturing Academy will provide MTF businesses with an unparalleled pipeline of a skilled workforce aligned our identified industry needs, and we’re committed to nurturing that talent with career opportunities.” 


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