Students from Dunclug College in Ballymena had the honour of being the first school pupils to board the state-of-the-art CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) Mobile Training Unit as part of the inaugural Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week (NIAW) in conjunction with the Department of the Economy and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The Unit allows employers to facilitate training such as manual handling and health and safety, and is also used to deliver advice and information on construction as a career option.

Throughout the day, groups of pupils attended information sessions delivered by CITB and Radius Housing highlighting the diverse range of career opportunities, current skills shortages and apprenticeship routes within the construction and property management sectors.

The students also heard Kathryn McClune, Assistant Contracts Manager at Forrme Ltd, Aine McNicholl, Project Manager at Combined Facilities Management and Orlagh Flaherty, Radius Housing’s first Higher Level Apprentice, talk about their job roles, training and work experience.

Mayor, Cllr Maureen Morrow, said: “This is the first time Apprenticeship Week has been dedicated to Northern Ireland and what a positive initiative it is in raising awareness of the importance of educating young people, schools and employers about the opportunities for on-the-job training.

“Students are being given an insight into the numerous ways in which they can earn while they learn, while companies and employers can showcase the various routes available to future workforces to gain essential skills while also contributing to the wider economy.”

Dunclug College Principal, Ruth Wilson, said afterwards:

“The students were very excited at the prospect of a visit from the CITB bus, in conjunction with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and were really looking forward to hearing more about the career opportunities in the Construction Industry.”

Barry Neilson, Chief Executive of CITB NI, said the organisation was delighted to work in partnership with Council and Radius Housing to help promote careers in construction at Dunclug College.

“Apprenticeships are the first step on the career ladder as many construction managers and other construction professionals started their careers as apprentices. We encourage the young people we have met at Dunclug College to consider a career in construction and a construction apprenticeship.”

Grainne Mullin, Community Investment Manager at Radius Housing, said: “We believe apprenticeships are an extremely valuable route into the industry and are committed to creating opportunities in partnership with our contractors and within our own workforce.

“In 2019 we employed our first Higher Level Apprentice in Asset Management, a qualification developed in partnership with SERC and one which we hope to develop further in future.”