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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

Applications close at noon on Friday 14 May 2021.

Fermanagh and Omagh

Cuilcagh Boardwalk Pre-Booking System is a Summer Success

The car park pre-booking system, which launched in June of this year, has welcomed almost 5,000 bookings in three months.

Cuilcagh Boardwalk’s official car park has received almost 5,000 bookings within three months of launching its online booking system,

The booking system was created earlier this year with the aim of facilitating more effective crowd management and social distancing regulations, controlling numbers during the peak season and ensuring the safety of all staff and visitors.

With hopes of also fostering sustainable, green tourism at the popular Fermanagh landmark, the limited visitor numbers better enable the protection of the grounds and surrounding habitat by controlling the heavy footfall often experienced at the Instagram-worthy attraction. This was the original cause that led to the original construction of the boardwalk by UNESCO-endorsed Cuilcagh Lakeland Geopark, with the paths meandering through one of the largest blanket bogs in Northern Ireland.

The online bookings have come from all across the island of Ireland as people have enjoyed staycations, bank holidays and two unprecedented heatwaves this summer. While the initiative has received initial success, the bookings only represent a small percentage of walkers currently visiting the boardwalk each day and the mountain trail aims to see more visitors doing their part and pre-booking their car parking space in the months ahead.

Speaking on the success of the online system to date, local farmer, Cuilcagh landowner and car park operator, John Sheridan commented:

“This online system marked an important first step in the long-term redevelopment plans for Cuilcagh Boardwalk, and the number of online bookings to date indicates that we are successfully engaging with and encouraging walkers to be more environmentally conscious during their visit.

With that said, our work is not done. We want to encourage 100% visitors to pre-book their car parking space, so that we can safely control numbers on the boardwalk each day and reduce the impact of high-volume visitor traffic.”

Cuilcagh Boardwalk is also now part of the national Leave No Trace education programme, which focuses on developing a national ethic that protects both natural and cultural heritage by minimising the environmental and social impacts of tourism on some of the country’s most popular visitor attractions.

Cuilcagh Boardwalk’s online car park booking system comes as part of early development plans for the mountain trail and is determined to remain a sustainable, environmentally mindful area for all to enjoy.

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Fermanagh and Omagh

Wild About the Workhouse Wildlife Walks in Enniskillen

Did you know there are eight species of bats in Northern Ireland or that swifts, on leaving their nest for the first time, are airborne for 2-3 years before they land for the first time!

Would you like to learn more about bats, swifts and local wildlife in Enniskillen?

If so, registration is now open to join a ‘Wild About the Workhouse’ guided walk taking place around Enniskillen on Friday 2 July and Friday 23 July 2021 at 8.30 pm.

These walks, organised by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, are part of the Enniskillen Workhouse Project in partnership with South West College with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Enniskillen Workhouse is currently home to swifts during the spring and summer months and bats potentially all year round.

Nesting swifts and bats are both protected species, therefore, as part of the restoration of the workhouse to create a business enterprise and heritage hub, the Council is protecting and enhancing the nesting and roosting spaces that are there by following specialist guidance on construction timings, building advice and appropriate mitigation.

The walks will be on footpaths and walkways around Enniskillen town at night taking in Enniskillen Castle and Fermanagh Lakeland Forum.

To find out more and book your place on a ‘Wild About the Workhouse’ guided walk, please email

Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis as numbers are restricted to 15 per walk.

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