Industry partners highlight importance of apprenticeships

Mid and East Antrim’s Manufacturing Task Force has held an event highlighting the importance of apprenticeships to the local economy.

Hosted by Ballymena based Moore Concrete, ‘Build the Future with Successful Apprentices’ event, which also celebrated the recent NI Apprenticeship Week, brought together a number of key partners, including Northern Regional College and the Department for the Economy, who shone a light on the amount of opportunities available, what it takes to implement a successful apprenticeship model as well as the manufacturing sector’s wider plans for apprenticeship programmes.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey, highlighted the importance of apprenticeships both for individuals and businesses within Mid and East Antrim: “There are clear benefits of apprenticeships whether that be for individuals interested in developing their skills and employability or for employers who are keen to grow and strengthen their teams.”

“I hope NI Apprenticeship Week has encouraged many people to consider the apprenticeship route as part of their career path,” the Mayor said.

L-R Michael Harris, Department of the Economy, Graham Smith, Chair MTF, Wilbert Moore, MD Moore Concrete, Mayor Cllr William McCaughey, Sean McAleese, Northern Regional College

Graham Whitehurst MBE, Chair of Mid and East Antrim’s Manufacturing Task Force, said: “Apprenticeships are a key component of our local and national economic recovery as we continue to rebuild the local skills base. They provide an excellent means by which to deliver a wide range of skills to support business needs, especially within the manufacturing, construction, agri food and engineering sectors, all of which are key sectors of focus in Mid and East Antrim. Apprentices offer a means to harness fresh talent for companies as they look to equip their workforce with the latest in practical skills and qualifications, helping to meet wider business requirements.

“Additionally, at a sectoral level, initiatives such as the recently launched Hydrogen Training Academy will play a critical role in training and upskilling existing employees as well as new trainees to a recognised professional competence standard required for the hydrogen sector.

“Through initiatives such as this, led by our Manufacturing Task Force, Mid and East Antrim is cementing its position as a hub for SME innovation, skills and commercialisation activity and a springboard for the clean growth sector and industry.”

Wilbert Moore, Moore Concrete Managing Director, said: “Not only do our apprentices gain essential skills and experience, they also get a head start on their chosen career path through earning a competitive salary along with the support and time to study for a recognised industry qualification.

“We have a number of apprentices at various stages, such as Level 2, 3 and Higher Level, and our expectation is to increase our headcount going forward.”