A ‘bespoke, collaborative approach’ has helped Northern Regional College work in partnership to support over one thousand local employers.
By identifying local businesses’ needs, the College has implemented a number of apprenticeships, traineeships, business development and further education programmes which have allowed the companies to be directly involved in the skills development of their employees.
Patrick Wallace, Principal Lecturer in Engineering and Motor Vehicle at Northern Regional College, explained more: “We work with SMEs right through to large companies with more than 250 employees and our partnership and engagement approach with local industry has proved very successful.
“My role is to link with industry, discuss their training opportunities, and then develop these training opportunities to help the company realise their full potential.
“Outcomes of such discussions have resulted in upskilling courses for organisations, the development of innovation initiatives, and of course, apprenticeships.”
Close industry and education partnerships mean that students who study at Northern Regional College receive an education which goes beyond theory. Students get valuable, practical experience which fully equips them ahead of graduating from the College and entering the world of work.
“Once students move to a Level 3 Apprenticeship, they can specialise in a specific area,” Patrick added.
Recently, Harland & Wolff partnered with the College to develop a bespoke training programme for Level 2 apprentices, providing them with the opportunity to develop a wide range of broad-based skills in engineering.
The programme will see the rotation of apprentices around the maritime and offshore engineering sections allowing them to understand how the company operates, the diversity of skills within the organisation and the processes that components involved in the manufacturing process.
The College also works closely with Harland & Wolff’s management and supervisors to develop the relevant skills that apprentices will need for working on-site.
“This bespoke, collaborative approach has allowed us to develop a close working relationship with the company. This in turn has helped the College understand the company’s business requirements and deliver a programme that is relevant to the business needs of Harland and Wolff. This develops a pipeline for future skills, as well as meeting requirements for economic growth in the wider engineering sector,” Patrick added.
Steven Wright, General Manager of Harland & Wolff said the company had benefitted from its relationship with the College:
“Our supportive and collaborative relationship with Northern Regional College has allowed us to create a unique and valuable learning experience for our apprentices.
“By working in close partnership with us, Northern Regional College has been able to understand our core company values and in response, offer accredited in-classroom learning to students.
“For students who are studying the newly developed Harland & Wolff apprenticeship, it has been a fantastic way to re-skill during uncertain times.”
Aaron Horner who is doing the new Level 2 apprenticeship said: “After being made redundant, I saw the advert for Harland & Wolff apprenticeships which was open to mature applicants.
“I initially thought I would like to retrain as a welder. Having started my course at Northern Regional College, which covers a wide range of practical skills, I have found that I am really enjoying the mechanical manufacturing aspects which will prepare me for work as a bench fitter. I’m learning so much from my course that I am feeling a lot more confident already.”