Bill Watson, Career Ready Co-ordinator and David McIlmoyle, Engineering Lecturer, Northern Regional College agree that the growing interest in the Career Ready programme shows that local companies are now realising its benefits.
“It allows companies to effectively trial potential employees, with many of them now taking up to three students each year and this often results in full time job offers for the students at the end of their course. This has turned out to be a win/win/win situation for the students/college/and employers,” said Bill.
David added: “We now have plans to roll this successful programme out to other campuses to offer all our BTEC Level 3 Engineering students even greater opportunities to enhance their employability skills, gain paid work experience while studying and provide employers with future employees.”
Local companies partnering the College’s Careers Ready programmes include: McAuley Engineering (Ballymoney), Hutchinson Engineering (Garvagh), Randox Laboratories (Crumlin), QUB (NITC, Belfast), Camden (Antrim), Apeer Doors (Broughshane), Ryobi Aluminium Castings Ltd (Carrickfergus), Maine Surface Finishing (Coleraine), Grafton Recruitment (Ballymena), Wright-Group (Ballymena), Quad-X (Ahoghill), Diamond Recruitment (Ballymena), Schrader Electronics Sensata (Antrim), Grants Electrical (Ballymena), Covtek (Coleraine), Payescape (Ballymoney), Outsource (Antrim), Nitec (Antrim), MindMill (Ballymena), Danske Bank (Ballymena), FSL (Cookstown), TES (Cookstown), Sperrin Metal (Draperstown), Indicators International (Magherafelt), Creagh Concrete (Toome), K-Tec Automation (Maghera), 4-Dee Engineering (Magherafelt) and Maverick Marine (Magherafelt).
Engineering and IT students from the College’s Ballymena campus who successfully completed the 2016/17 Career Ready programme joined students from other Colleges across Northern Ireland at Queen’s University, Belfast last week to celebrate the occasion. The special graduation ceremony, sponsored by employers McAuley Engineering, Reserve Forces and Cadets Association and Sensata Technologies Ltd, marked the end of an exciting 18 month employability programme, designed to prepare 16-19 year olds for the world of work. As well as enjoying six weeks’ paid work industrial experience, the students also benefited from team building, one-to-one mentoring, site visits and master classes which provide students with information from an employer perspective.
The entire graduation ceremony was presented by successful Career Ready students. They included Aaron Stevenson and Andrew Smyth, both Level 3 BTEC Engineering students at the College’s Ballymena campus. Aaron completed his placement with Quad-X and Andrew is currently employed by his placement company McAuley Engineering.
Now in its eighth year, the Career Ready programme continues to go from strength to strength and this academic year for the first time, schools as well as colleges, were included. More than 100 students are expected to complete the programme in 2018, while plans to expand to an additional number of schools in Northern Ireland, particularly in the Belfast area, are now in place.
Tony Madden, Career Ready’s Regional Manager for Northern Ireland, said: “Our graduation ceremony marks the end of a really exciting 18 months for our Career Ready students. As always, I’m hugely impressed by their commitment to the Career Ready programme, which – because of the work they put in – really gives them the edge when it comes to finding work. It’s great to join them all as they celebrate all the hard work they’ve put in.”
Tony Madden, Regional Manager for N.Ireland (far right) with Northern Regional College IT students who successfully completed the Skills Ready 2016/17 programme pictured at the Careers Ready graduation ceremony at Queen's University, Belfast. Also included is David Condell, Operations Director of McAuley Engineering and Sponsor.