Two Newtownabbey students have reached the finals of the Apprentice of the Year 2014 awards which took place recently at Hillsborough Castle.
Ryan McCullough, who is studying IT and apprentice bricklayer Michael Michael Surgenor, from Ballyclare, have been congratulated on their success by Employment and Learning Minister Dr. Stephen Farry.
Ryan is completing his apprenticeship in IT at Belfast Metropolitan College and is employed by Capita Managed IT Solutions in Newtownabbey. Michael is a student at Northern Regional College, Ballymena and is employed by Philip Lamont in Ballymena.
The awards ceremony, organised by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), was held in Hillsborough Castle.
Congratulating the winners, Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry said: “The array of talent on display today is testament to the high level of skills and talent that exists in Northern Ireland.
“I congratulate all the apprentices on their achievements and wish them continued success in their chosen careers.
“Ryan and Michael are excellent examples of how an apprentice can form an integral part of a company.
“Apprenticeships are an efficient and effective means for matching supply and demand in an economy.
“This is why delivering a world class system through my Department’s current review of apprenticeships is essential.
“I am proposing that, for the first time in Northern Ireland, a central service will be introduced to promote and support apprenticeship provision, including assisting both employers and potential apprentices to make informed decisions about their participation including improved careers advice.
“As part of my review, I am also proposing that apprenticeships will extend from Levels three through to Level eight (PhD equivalent).
“This expansion into higher level apprenticeships will offer opportunities to expand the system into new occupational areas, including the professions and also into the public sector.”
All apprentices throughout Northern Ireland follow a training framework developed with the relevant industry sector which includes attainment of a Vocational Qualification, a technical certificate and if necessary, specified essential skills.
The “Apprentice of the Year” competition is open to those currently on the DEL ApprenticeshipsNI programme and showcases excellence in apprenticeship training.