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Fermanagh and Omagh

Assured Skills Collaborative Welding Academies at South West College

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has launched the first two, of up to seven, new Assured Skills Collaborative Welding Academies at South West College, with 24 training places.

The Assured Skills Collaborative Academies will see successful applicants receive industry-standard welding training, during a six-week course at South West College’s new industry training facility in Cookstown.

Participants who complete the Academies are guaranteed an interview for a welding positon at one of eight companies in the Dungannon area.

Announcing the Academies the Minister said: “The Mid Ulster area retains a strong and resilient manufacturing and engineering sector which makes an important contribution to our economy. This significant package of skills support for the sector shows my commitment to addressing the need for welders in a range of companies in the local area.”

Assured Skills Collaborative Academies

Highlighting the opportunity, the Minister said: “The first two Assured Skills Collaborative Welding Academies are now open for applications.

“These Academies will be the first of up to seven to be delivered in the coming year which will, in total, provide training opportunities for up to 84 people at South West College’s new dedicated training facility in Cookstown, which was funded by my Department.

“People with welding skills are in high demand in our local engineering and manufacturing sector. These Assured Skills Collaborative Academies will equip participants with these skills through an industry-recognised qualification and position them very strongly to kick-start a new career in welding. No experience in welding is required – I urge anyone who is interested to apply.”

Participants on the Academy will study ETCAL Level 2 Performing Engineering Operations and Certified Abrasive Wheels Training.

Major Sector Of Employment

Ciaran McManus, Assistant Chief Executive of South West College, said:

“Engineering is a major sector of employment in the south west region. The college is committed to working in partnership with local employers to help them attract, develop and nurture new talent. These new pre-employment Assured Skills Collaborative Academies provide a means of attracting new people to the sector by providing a great opportunity for people in the area to gain new skills and a potential offer of employment.

“We are particularly pleased to be delivering these Assured Skills Collaborative Academies in our new welding training facility at SWC and look forward to welcoming successful applicants to the Academy on board.”

Welding Skills Gap

Welcoming the series of Academies, the industry-led collaborative network, Mid-Ulster Manufacturing and Engineering Growth and Advancement (MEGA) Chair Darragh Cullen said: “Today’s announcement has the potential to be a major step forward in addressing the welding skills gap for growing companies in the local area. Engagement with government, training providers and employers is key to getting the right training in place to meet the industry’s immediate need for a variety of job functions. This commitment to deliver up to seven Academies is a very positive development for the area as it will help us all to develop a sustainable pipeline of skills to help meet the immediate skills shortages and supports medium term solutions.” 

Training will be delivered in two separate cohorts of 12:

  • Cohort 1 – Monday 14 June to Friday 23 July 2021
  • Cohort 2 – Monday 26 July 2021 to Friday 3 September 2021

These dates may change depending on the situation with Covid-19.

More information on the South West College Assured Skills Welding Academy and details of how to apply are available at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/assured-skills

Applications close at noon on Friday 14 May 2021.

Fermanagh and Omagh

£400,000 Investment in Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital

Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital
Health Minister Robin Swann with (left) Deputy Sister Kerry Mellon and (right) Sister Phyllis Fitzsimons during a visit to ASHA Centre for Addiction in Omagh. Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Health Minister Robin Swann has visited mental health and addictions units at Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital in Omagh to meet staff and to see the recent capital improvements to the Hospital.

Minister Swann said: “As with my visits to other similar units across Northern Ireland, in recent times, I am continually struck by the amazing dedication and professionalism of the staff working in both addictions and mental health services. Particularly during the especially challenging times presented by the ongoing pandemic their resilience has been outstanding.”

Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital provides inpatient acute mental health care, psychiatric intensive care and addictions inpatient care. The hospital also provides a six-bedded crisis house, which has been transformed to provide hospital in-patient services to meet the increasing need associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The facilities, some of which date back to the 1930’s are in need of investment, with the long term plan for a new 6,700m2 new-build facility to be located adjacent to the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex. The new centre will replace existing outdated facilities and provide modern, fit-for-purpose accommodation in the Southern Sector of the Trust.

Minister Swann reiterated that: “I consider a new mental health unit in Omagh to be a very important and deserving priority for my Department. That is why last September I resubmitted a bid for funding to commence the new unit as part of a four year capital budget information gathering exercise. Without additional resources and a multi-year budget settlement my Department is unable to commence any significant new investments that will continue beyond this financial year.

“I remain determined to keep pressing for the necessary funding for this important project but in the interim I can confirm my Department will provide a further £400,000 to invest in Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital to improve patient safety and experience. The investment will have a direct impact on patients and will improve outcomes and bringing the total invested in AMH facilities in Omagh over the last two years to almost £1.5million.”

Commenting on the Minister’s visit, Western Health and Social Care Trust Director of Adult Mental Health & Disability Services, Karen O’Brien, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Minister to Omagh today to visit our Complex Detoxification Unit in the Asha Centre and our Elm, Lime and Integrated Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICU).

“On behalf of the Western Trust I would like to thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to come and view, first hand, our extensive acute mental health facilities in Omagh and to acknowledge the work and commitment of our staff towards the provision of mental health and social care services across the Western Trust.

“I would also like to thank the Minister for his continued support and for his clear and continuing commitment towards those in need of mental health care, which is demonstrated through his support of proposals for a new mental health unit in Omagh.”

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Derry City & Strabane

Local Councils Plan A Giant Visitor Experience For The Sperrins

The Isak Heartstone Sculpture, Breckenridge, Colorado USA by Thomas Dambo, who is part of the artist led design and construction consultancy team appointed to undertake the sculpture development and installation works along with McGurk Architects.

Members of the public are invited to have their say on the proposed Sperrin Sculpture Trail that is being rolled out by Derry City & Strabane District Council in partnership with Fermanagh & Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council.

The Sperrin Sculpture Trail is being delivered through the Rural Tourism Scheme as part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 with support from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). It aims to install an iconic and unique art piece within each of the three Council areas in an effort to drive and encourage rural tourism and support investment in local natural and built heritage.

The locations within the Sperrins on which the artworks will be installed are near Cranagh (Derry City & Strabane District Council area); at Mullaghcarn (Fermanagh & Omagh District Council area) and at Davagh Forest (Mid Ulster District Council area).The estimated cost of project delivery is £1,887,000 of which £1,325,000 has been secured from DAERA’s Rural Tourism Scheme and match funding of £562,000 agreed by the partner Councils.

Early this year, an artist led design and construction consultancy team was appointed to undertake the sculpture development and installation works. This team consists of internationally acclaimed and Copenhagen based artist Thomas Dambo, and Sperrins based McGurk Architects.  

The proposed design concept for the trail – Giants of The Sperrins- is an exciting one and is currently being refined. It seeks to showcase the epic stories associated with the Sperrins, the inspirational nature of the landscape, and the giant spirit and welcome of the people. Extensive engagement with partners, stakeholders and elected members across all three of the Councils has taken place to date, with the aim of promoting and seeking support for this unique visitor experience. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and wider public engagement is now being organised.

Rural Tourism Scheme

Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots said, “The Rural Tourism Scheme was established in order to invest in natural and built heritage projects that can act as key drivers for encouraging rural tourism and out-of-state visitors.  We believe that investing in tourism projects in rural areas, will enable not only linkages to be made to other local attractions, but also the development of ‘tourism corridors’, which will encourage and increase visitor footfall from tourism hotspots into the great rural outdoors. 

Welcoming the progress to date on the project, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney acknowledged the partnership approach in securing funding and agreeing a collaborative approach to deliver a unique tourism experience to showcase the Sperrins. He said: “This is a hugely positive initiative that not only will deliver a tourism experience that will showcase a local area of outstanding natural beauty but it will actively encourage locals and visitors alike to take part in a mix of excellent slow and activity based adventures in one of the most picturesque and historic locations on the island of Ireland.”

“The Sperrins Sculpture Trail project is a significant Rural Tourism Scheme that is bringing much needed investment and focus on the  natural and built heritage in that area so they in turn can be utilised and promoted to encourage visitors to our rural heartlands  whilst preserving the natural assets for our rural communities.”

Encouraging the public to take part in the wider public engagement event, Mayor Tierney said it was important that everyone has their say on the plans.

“In addition to this flagship tourism project attracting investment and tourism, it is a significant capital infrastructural project that will create employment and opportunities for the region. It is vitally important that everyone gets involved in this public engagement event and gives their views.”

Adding Yet Another Reason to Visit

Concurring, the Chair of Mid Ulster District Council and partner council, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said  

“Creating a sculpture trail through the Sperrins is adding yet another reason to visit one of our most beautiful and unexplored landscapes and this is a great opportunity for local people in particular to see how plans have developed and some of the initial design ideas”.

The Chair of Fermanagh & Omagh District Council Council, Councillor Diana Armstrong said

“This is a powerful project that can lead to a truly unique sculpture trail, linking three extraordinary sites across the Sperrins.  The sculptures have the potential to encourage visitors to come and explore this stunning landscape and be a source of pride for those that live in the area. The information sessions present a great opportunity for members of the public to get involved and give their views on this unique project.”

The public information and engagement session is scheduled to take place via the online platform of webex at 7pm on Thursday 10th of June. To register your interest in receiving an online invite to the event please contact Philip McShane, Rural Tourism Officer, Derry City & Strabane District Council by emailing philip.mcshane@derrystrabane.com

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