Economy Minister Diane Dodds has launched a new Supply Chain and Logistics course for Higher Level Apprentices at Northern Regional College.
The course, funded by the Department for the Economy, is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and will ensure a pipeline of skilled talent flows to this important sector.
Minister Dodds said: “Skills are a key priority as we begin the process of rebuilding the economy and apprenticeships are at the centre of my Department’s long-term strategic plans.
“With over £8billion in annual external sales to Great Britain, logistics is integral to Northern Ireland’s economy and its importance will continue to grow due to the interconnectedness of supply chains across the UK.
“This new Higher Level Apprenticeship will supply the relevant skills and provide high quality career opportunities in an important and growing sector.”
Fifteen places will be available on the HLA Supply Chain and Logistics programme in the first year. Training will be delivered at Northern Regional College’s Newtownabbey campus from 13 September 2021 and will include modules in Transport, Logistics, Supply Chain, Compliance and Warehousing.
Due to the specialist nature of the course, students will be taught by industry experts working alongside Northern Regional College lecturers to ensure full compliance with current sector regulations.
Logistics plays an important role in Northern Ireland’s economy and helps keep goods moving into, out of and around the region. Across the UK, the wider logistics industry employs over 2.5 million people.
Northern Regional College has worked closely with sector representatives and local businesses to ensure the innovative course meets their specialist requirements. Among those involved in the development of the course were Logistics UK Northern Ireland, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, DFDS, Henderson Group, Ryobi, Caterpillar, Woodside Logistics Group, Lynas Foods and McBurney Transport.
Professor Terri Scott, Principal and Chief Executive of Northern Regional College, said the increased awareness of the importance of the supply chain and logistics in the wake of both Brexit and the Covid pandemic meant it is an opportune time for the college to launch the new Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA).
She said: “The HLA in Supply Chain and Logistics will be a game changer for anyone interested in pursuing a career in this sector. Northern Regional College is delighted to be able to partner with local stakeholders to provide real-world knowledge and expertise to the apprentices as they look to further their career.
“There is a growing demand for skilled professionals in this fast-paced and influential business environment.”
Nick McCullough, Managing Director of DFDS, said: “There is a significant shortage of skilled people in our industry, so this HLA is very welcome especially as we continue to grow and enter new markets across Europe and beyond. We look forward to supporting the ongoing development of the HLA in Supply Chain and Logistics and welcoming skilled people into our business in the years to come.”
Seamus Leheny, Northern Ireland Policy Manager at Logistics UK, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and our exit from the EU have shown the importance of logistics as an industry. The fact that our economy relies on the efficient connectivity of supply chains demonstrates the need to have people with relevant skills and training in logistics management.”
Higher Level Apprentices will work with their employer four days a week and attend the college one day to complete a Foundation Degree in Supply Chain and Logistics, validated by Ulster University. On successful completion of the Foundation Degree, they can progress to undertake a BSc degree in Business Studies at Ulster University.
During her visit to NRC’s Newtownabbey campus, the Minister also visited the college workshops to meet apprentices and lecturers. She spoke with fourth year plumbing apprentice Adam Coomber who recently received the NI Plumbing and Heating Apprentice of the Year Award.
To apply for the Supply Chain and Logistics course, go online here.
The Planned Return of Full Vehicle Testing Services
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced that the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) is planning to resume full vehicle testing services from 26 July.
In light of the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, which has enabled a number of close contact services to resume including driving tests, the DVA has carried out a review of its current vehicle testing processes in order to return to its normal 20 minute test slot for cars and light goods vehicles. Currently, vehicle testing templates are configured for 25 minutes in line with the control measures that were introduced to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
To manage the transition to full service delivery, Temporary Exemption Certificates (TECs) for all qualifying vehicles will be extended by one further month. New TECs or extensions to existing TECs will be applied automatically to enable vehicles to be taxed and kept on the road.
Minister Mallon said: “Over recent months the DVA has worked hard to increase its vehicle testing capacity but has been working at a reduced capacity due to the safety measures it introduced to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
“The DVA is taking steps to reinstate its normal vehicle test times from 26 July, which will allow all vehicles to be brought forward for a test. This will be kept under ongoing review depending on the course of the epidemic.
“The DVA is in the process of revising its risk assessments, which will include appropriate mitigation measures, and will engage on them with staff and Trade Union representatives.
“Existing TECs applied to eligible private cars, light goods vehicles and motorcycles aged 4-9 years will be extended by a further month from the date the existing exemption ends. Four year old cars and motorcycles and three year old light goods vehicles due a first time test will have a five month TEC applied from the date their first MOT is due.”
Continuing the Minister said: “Road safety remains a significant priority. I would like to remind owners and drivers of all vehicles that they are responsible under the law for the roadworthiness of their vehicle at all times. The expectation from the Department, the PSNI and the Association of British Insurers is that motorists continue to service their vehicle and carry out basic checks such as looking out for brake wear, ensuring that all lights are working and regularly checking their tyre pressure and tread depth.
“As before, extensions to TECs will be added to the DVA system, not issued in hard copy. For all vehicles with TECs applied, the DVA will issue a reminder notice to the registered keeper of the vehicle before the TEC period ends, with instructions on how to book a test.”
£17million for Roads Recovery Fund in 2021/22
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced £17million for a Roads Recovery Fund from her 2021/22 capital budget.
Earlier this month the Minister announced her high level budget commitments for the new financial year which included investment of £223.1m in our roads’ network. The £17m funding for the Roads Recovery Fund will be used to address areas of immediate concern across the road network.
Minister Mallon said: “Since taking office last year, I have been clear that my priorities include addressing regional imbalance and better connecting communities. This is particularly important when considering the infrastructure associated with rural development. Our rural areas, including our towns and villages, have a key role to play in supporting economic growth and enhanced rural living. Connectivity is a key issue for these areas and I recognise the important role that the rural road network plays.
“There has been historical under-investment in the maintenance of our road network for a significant number of years and many rural roads in particular are in need of repairs. In response, I allocated £12 million of my 2020-21 Capital budget to a Roads Recovery Fund, of which £10 million was specifically directed towards rural roads.
“Following the success of last year’s fund, I am setting up an enhanced fund in 2021-22 and therefore I have allocated £17 million of my capital budget to a Roads Recovery Fund, of which £15 million is specifically directed towards rural roads.
“Rural roads will therefore benefit from a 50% increase in funding in this initiative, reflecting my commitment to continue this important work to benefit rural communities.
“My Department is committed to delivering the best possible services with the funds available. Details of our works programmes will be provided in the reports presented by Divisional Roads Managers to the various District Councils at the forthcoming round of spring meetings.”