Adult learners benefit from joint initiative

Mayor of Larne Cllr Martin Wilson pictured with learners Patrick Scullion, Annette Stynes and Amanda Ferguson.  INLT 30-679-CON
Mayor of Larne Cllr Martin Wilson pictured with learners Patrick Scullion, Annette Stynes and Amanda Ferguson. INLT 30-679-CON
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More than 130 local people returned to adult education over the last year thanks to a joint programme between Northern Regional College and LEDCOM.

Participants gathered at LEDCOM’s Willowbank offices to celebrate their achievements through the Learner Access and Engagement Programme, a Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) initiative.

This was the first year of the three year programme, which aims to increase adult enrolment in essential skills and further education courses and to increase the numbers achieving recognised qualifications locally.

The programme in particular engages with learners who are currently unemployed and hold no more than one qualification at level two or above.

Project manager, Patricia Brennan from LEDCOM said: “Returning to education can seem daunting but we support people along this journey; we’re all in it together. Our team were hugely successful in reaching out to local people and encouraging them to take this first step.”

The courses were offered in local community venues taught by highly qualified NRC tutors. Whilst essential skills in ICT, Maths and English were key to the programme, a wide range of other courses were offered including counselling, mixed craft, interior design, fashion, drawing and painting, food safety for catering, healthier food and special diets, and sports leadership.

Speaking at the event, NRC Principal/Chief Executive Trevor Neilands said: “We are delighted to be partners with LEDCOM on this programme. The number of learners who are here today is a testament to how successful this programme has been in its first year. We will continue to work closely with LEDCOM in making education accessible to the local community.”

LEDCOM also delivered this programme in Carrickfergus, rural Newtownabbey and Moyle, working with a total of 300 learners in a year. Every one of those participants has a personal story about what returning to education has meant to them.

Annette Stynes, who successfully completed two courses under the Learner Access and Engagement Programme, spoke positively about her learning experiences.

She said: “When I heard LEDCOM were delivering courses it was a great opportunity to enhance my computer skills through the essential skills ICT course. I then signed up for the CPCAB Level Two Award in counselling skills to enhance my people skills and support my voluntary work with the British Legion. Both courses were efficiently organised and the whole experience was very enjoyable.”

Three Larne men completed multiple courses this year - Paddy Scullion, Eddie Dempsey and David McCallion.

Patricia added: “Eddie was our very first learner and is now in full time employment. David is a further education learner who, while employed, needed to undertake some qualifications to improve his promotion prospects – a great example of how essentials skills delivery locally can really make a difference.”

The programme was so successful that another eight courses are already planned for Larne.

For further information on the Learner Access and Engagement Programme, contact Laura McCourt at LEDCOM, 02828270742 email mccourtl@ledcom.org