Importance of apprenticeship opportunities across Mid and East Antrim

Mid and East Antrim’s Manufacturing Task Force has celebrated NI Apprenticeship Week 2023 with an event highlighting the importance of apprenticeships to the local economy.

Hosted by fit-out and bespoke joinery company McCue in Carrickfergus, the breakfast event brought together a number of key partners, including Northern Regional College and the Department for the Economy.

Aimed at highlighting the importance of the apprenticeship career path to the local economy – it showcased the large number of apprenticeship opportunities available in the Borough with MTF companies. Roles available include joinery, engineering, supply chain and logistics, electrical installation and butchery alongside business disciplines including; sales, marketing, finance and HR – which are suitable for candidates from GCSE to ‘A’ Level equivalent and degree level.

Businesses attending the event heard from Gary Purdy, Managing Director of McCue, who provided an overview of the company’s successful joinery apprenticeship model alongside feedback from apprentice Jamie McMullan.  McCue has plans to run its own joinery academy in the future, but in the meantime, it continues to take on an average of ten apprentices per year mainly focusing on joinery through a range of levels from first year through to fourth year, in conjunction with Northern Regional College.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, highlighted the importance of apprenticeships both for individuals and businesses within Mid and East Antrim. He said: “I am delighted to attend this great event. Apprentices are vitally important to all industries and this week is the perfect opportunity to find out more about the fantastic opportunities available across Mid and East Antrim. “NI Apprenticeship Week has developed into a far-reaching initiative that brings together all stakeholders involved in the development and delivery of apprenticeships to raise their profile across NI. It also looks to celebrate the many successes of those who have taken part in training apprentices locally.

“This important initiative allows apprentices to get a valuable insight into their chosen sector and gain key skills – all while making a steady income along the way. Meanwhile, businesses across the Borough have a chance to expand their workforce with talented apprentices who are eager to learn and contribute in a positive way to their business. I would encourage anyone in Mid and East Antrim with an interest to get involved.”

Gary Purdy of McCue commented: “McCue is renowned for its impressive craftsmanship and high-end projects and our intent is on retaining our specialist skillset for the future by continuing our recruitment and in-house training of apprentices.

“We’re extremely fortunate to work with many global brands including H&M and Urban Outfitters. Our team has also worked on iconic ships including the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, and hotels such as Ten Trinity Square, Claridges, The Berkeley and The Corinthia in London.  Closer to home we’ve completed projects including Café en Seine in Dublin, and more recently, the Friend at Hand Whiskey Museum in Belfast. So not only does this job provide apprentices with a skilled trade and a good wage – it also provides excellent opportunities to travel.”

Sean McAleese, Work Based Learning Manager at Northern Regional College which has two campuses in Mid and East Antrim explained how the College works with a number of businesses across the Borough to deliver specific training programmes for their business to ensure a sustained pool of talent and skills. He said: “The value of undertaking an apprenticeship programme cannot be understated. We often work alongside organisations who have a particular training need, then design a bespoke apprentice-training programme to deliver a wide range of relevant theoretical and practical skills. “Programmes like these also introduce students to continuous improvement, problem solving techniques and standard operational procedures in the workplace.”

Michael Harris, Apprenticeships Development and Marketing, Department for the Economy, added: “Apprenticeships are a key component of our local and national economic recovery as we continue to rebuild the local skills base.  “They provide an excellent means by which to deliver a wide range of skills to support business needs, especially within the manufacturing, construction, agri-food and engineering sectors, all of which are key sectors of focus in Mid and East Antrim. “Through initiatives such as this, led by the MTF, Mid and East Antrim is cementing its position as a hub for SME innovation, skills and commercialisation activity and a springboard for the clean growth sector and industry.”

To register your interest or find out more about the exciting apprenticeship opportunities available in the Borough email:

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Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Now is the time - Embrace the opportunity